Three House Democrats with close ties to House Speaker Pelosi have finalized a detailed set of guidelines on what they are seeking in global warming legislation, including more aggressive cuts than those pending in the Senate and the Bush administration. The trio did not offer legislation but broader principles for guiding greenhouse gas cap-and-trade legislation, including annual emission cuts that would lead to reductions of between 15-20 percent below current levels in 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. “Acting in accordance with these principles is critical to achieving a fair and effective bill that will avoid the most dangerous global warming and assist those harmed by the warming that is unavoidable, while strengthening our economy,” House Global Warming Chairman Edward Markey, and Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Jay Inslee, D-Wash., say in a letter to Pelosi they are circulating today. A Senate bill approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee in December and awaiting floor action the first week in June would reduce emissions about 70 percent by midcentury. President Bush last week outlined a goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
The principles from Markey, Waxman and Inslee encompass ideas that all three have been espousing for months and may play well with Pelosi. She has close relationships with Markey — whom she tapped to head the temporary global warming panel she created — and fellow Californian Waxman. Pelosi will have to bridge differences with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which represents Democrats from coal, auto and other industrial areas, and Republicans who say cap-and-trade programs are too costly to the economy.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Dingell and Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee Rick Boucher, D-Va., have spoken favorably of emulating EPA’s acid rain program in allowing a vast majority of emission credits to be given away. Markey, Waxman and Inslee say one way to keep the costs of a cap-and-trade plan manageable is to auction emission credits and use revenues “to benefit the public.” If allocations are given away, “they must be provided only to existing facilities for a brief transition period and the quantity must be limited to avoid windfall profits,” they wrote. Dingell said, “I welcome this constructive announcement from my colleagues and look forward to working with them as we wrestle with the legislative details necessary to transform any set of principles into action.”.
Their other principles include allowing states to enforce tougher standards if they so choose; requiring a “significant” percentage of the revenues from an auction of emission credits to go to renewable energy and efficiency sources; and stating the U.S. must negotiate to reach binding international reduction goals under the United Nations and encourage developing countries to lower emissions as well.
This article appears in the April 26, 2008, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.