Monday, October 12, 2009

John Kerry and Lindsey Graham on Climate Change

The pairing of names on an op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times bode well for the prospects for action on global warming. John Kerry and Lindsey Graham say they “agree that climate change is real and threatens our economy and national security,” and that Congress can and should act:
However, we refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change. We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.
Having a high profile conservative join with John Kerry signals that the Senate math may be more favorable than we imagined. The Democratic majority of 60 includes four who represent coal states (West Virginia and Pennsylvania) and others representing states like Alaska and Louisiana. Having Republicans in play makes it easier to bargain for the necessary votes to forestall a filibuster. This may have made it easier to include a standard of 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emission in the Kerry-Boxer bill introduced two weeks ago, instead of the 17 percent in Waxman-Markey.
They make the point that the U.S. needs to develop new industries to meet our energy needs, and not wait for China and India to take an insurmountable lead. A sure way to cede energy leadership is to keep investing in 19th century technologies while our rivals take the lead in 21st century technologies. They also propose that we protect our interests by imposing an import tax on countries that avoid greenhouse gas emission standards.
But Kerry and Graham also recognize the potential for disruption for consumers and business that a large shift in the energy economy will create. They propose “the establishment of a floor and a ceiling for the cost of emission allowances” to ensure that volatility in the market for emission allowances doesn’t create too much havoc. This feature is already part of Kerry-Boxer.
Taken with the
high profile defections from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cracks in the solid wall in GOP opposition in the Senate and the House make the prospect of meaningful action much brighter.


Blogger Joanne said...

The article by Kerry & Graham also states that

... while we invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, we must also take advantage of nuclear power, our single largest contributor of emissions-free power. Nuclear power needs to be a core component of electricity generation if we are to meet our emission reduction targets. We need to jettison cumbersome regulations that have stalled the construction of nuclear plants in favor of a streamlined permit system that maintains vigorous safeguards while allowing utilities to secure financing for more plants. We must also do more to encourage serious investment in research and development to find solutions to our nuclear waste problem.

8:35 AM, October 13, 2009  

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