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Page added on July 24, 2010

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After the Climate Bill Failure


With the Senate slinking away from any effort to control climate-altering carbon emissions, the frustrated and perplexed are asking, now what? Can federal and state governments move ahead under existing law to achieve some or all of the greenhouse gas reductions envisioned in the failed legislation?
Just in time comes a report from the respected World Resources Institute attempting to answer just that question. The 60-page paper was released on the very day that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, pulled the plug on the already-comatose Senate climate bill.

The study (warning: quite wonky) looks at federal and state laws governing greenhouse gas pollutants and asks whether they can achieve the target set by President Obama at the international climate conference in Copenhagen last December – a 17 percent reduction over 2005 levels by 2020.

The short answer from W.R.I. is no. The longer answer is that it depends on how hard federal and state officials try.

The bottom line: If federal agencies and state governments pursue the most ambitious paths available to them, the United States could achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases that approach but fall short of the 17 percent target. Lesser efforts would put the country far short of the goal. W.R.I. graded the various approaches to regulation between “lackluster” and “go-getter.”

Jonathan Lash, president of the institute, said in a news release accompanying the report that with Congress stalled, it will be up to the Environmental Protection Agency to use its power under the Clean Air Act and other laws to begin to slow the growth of the emissions that contribute to global warming. He noted the bipartisan efforts in both houses of Congress to try to strip E.P.A. of that authority.

“The study highlights both the need to pass climate legislation and the importance of preserving existing authorities,” said Jonathan Lash, president of the institute. “The study’s findings make it very clear that current efforts by Congress to curb U.S. E.P.A. authority will undermine U.S. competitiveness in a clean energy world economy, block control of dangerous pollutants, and put the U.S. at odds with its allies.”

“Robust federal regulatory action and strong state leadership, combined with significant political will, are the needed ingredients to achieve significant reductions using existing authorities,” he said. “The study also highlights that cap-and-trade legislation is needed to drive longer-term reductions and provide investors with the certainty they will need to transform the U.S. economy and add jobs.”

The institute said that the E.P.A., invoking the Clean Air Act, and the Department of Transportation, using its regulatory power over fuel efficiency, could make major strides over the next decade in reducing carbon dioxide pollution. But new legislation is needed to put a price on the emissions from dirty-burning fossil fuels, the group concluded.

“Without federal climate legislation that locks in longer-term economy-wide reductions, the longer-term picture is unclear,” said Nicholas Bianco, a senior associate at W.R.I. and a co-author of the study. “A long-term declining cap on emissions, creating a robust carbon price, is still very much needed.”

Good luck with that.

2 Comments on "After the Climate Bill Failure"

  1. KenZ300 on Sat, 24th Jul 2010 8:11 am 

    The obstructionists in Congress and their business lobbyists are working against the American people and the global environment.

    I think the general population is way ahead of the politicians on this issue.

  2. KenZ300 on Mon, 26th Jul 2010 1:51 am 

    People need to demand that the American Congress pass comprehensive energy legislation and put us on a path to alternative and sustainable energy. It is time to diversify our supply of energy and move to the sustainable energy of the future. Wind, solar, and biofuels need to be an increasing part of the energy mix.

    Our economic security and national security requires a national energy policy.

    Can an economy built on cheap energy transition to alternative energy fast enough to avoid an economic disaster?

    How much of the last economic downturn can be contributed to the run up in OIL prices to $147 per barrel?

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