The Intersection

Exciting news in the world of climate policy.. a proposal that’s not only progressive and practical, it’s possible!

i-ce871332122ce2ba985d930e0ccf4e83-emissions.bmpYou’ve likely heard a bit lately about carbon caps and carbon trading. These programs set overall authorized caps on emissions and allow the buying and selling of emissions credits. While Europe has been at this for a while, there’s talk of establishing a US equivalent to place value on CO2 and other carbon pollutants. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and John Warner (R-Va.) have put together a bill in consultation with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions on cost-containment for the carbon market and the proposal rolled out on Tuesday. Why be excited? It addresses cost concerns while maintaining the integrity of the emissions cap and allows the US market to link up with international cap-and-trade programs. It also establishes a Carbon Market Efficiency Board with oversight which would operate similarly to the Federal Reserve.

“This is an historical and pivotal moment in American history and I think if we do the right thing, we can not only save this planet, we can be a model for China and for India, we can create jobs as we help transform their economies, we can create jobs in our own nation, we can do it, if we have the political will.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) July 24, 2007

To get a real feel for what the bill will imply, watch the full hearing HERE. I highly recommend viewing the entire webcast – it’s interesting, informative and gives me reason to believe, like Bob Dylan, For the times they are a-changin’.

Read more on the proposal at Grist, CongressDaily, Duke’s press release, and commentary from Harry Fuller.


  1. #1 Linda
    July 27, 2007

    What a GREAT step forward for America, and we sorely need something positive, should this come to fruition.

  2. #2 Fred Bortz
    July 27, 2007

    I wonder how the incorrigible AGW deniers will spin this.

    Are Warner and Graham misled, or are they political opportunists trying to seize the issue from the Dems?

    Too soon to celebrate, but not too soon to hope….

  3. #3 Wes
    July 27, 2007

    I fail to get excited about cap and trade programs. While this bill acknowledges that a problem exists, the idea that trading pollution credits is going to solve anything is not supported by history. Examples of abuse are easy to find.

    One of the first companies to bid for additional credits, the Illinois Power Company, canceled construction of a $350 million scrubber system in the city of Decatur, Illinois. “Our compliance plan is based almost totally on purchase of credits,” an Illinois Power spokesperson told the Wall St. Journal.

    Source: Institute for Social Ecology. I would be much more excited had this been a proposal for a carbon tax.

  4. #4 Chris Mooney
    July 27, 2007

    An email to me just pointed out that a longer Dylan quote would be appropriate:

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.

  5. #5 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    July 27, 2007

    How ’bout on sea level rise:

    Come gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone.
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    It’s been great swapping lyrics today Chris. Rock ’em like a hurricane at the SW party! I hear the music there will be amazing.

  6. #6 Curtis
    July 28, 2007

    I watched the hearing. As someone who studies carbon in the atmosphere, this sounds like the most reasonable piece of legislation I’ve come across. It’s early, but sounds like the proposal covers all the bases. I’ll be following. Keep us updated.

  7. #7 Lance
    July 30, 2007

    Don’t get too smug my AGW pretties,

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    And don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’.
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin’

    The “wheel is still in spin” and “don’t speak to soon” are words you may want to heed.

  8. #8 bernardo issel
    July 30, 2007

    Regrettably I’m not as excited as you about this development.

    With all due respect, the Nicholas Institute is pretty tight with the same folks who wanted to legitimize with carbon offsets a self-chilling beverage can which spewed a potent greenhouse gas ( each can was comparable to driving 100 miles ). These same environmental leaders then turn around and declare that the danger of global warming is so great that every possible option must be on the table, including ramping up nuclear power. It would seem that the responsible action is not to try to help reckless products such as these self-chilling cans get on the table, and then start removing many other greenhouse producing products and dynamics.

    In other areas these people were playing footsie with Enron and legitimizing policies beneficial to the company. Woe for the climate and us if these global warming policies that Enron hoped to make billions of dollars from turn out to be as much a charade as Enron’s business model.

    But their concern is for protecting the economy first — tell that to the Californians who suffered blackouts and the laid off Enron workers who lost their pensions earned from working for other companies that Enron took over ( in some cases with enviro support ).

    At times I’m not sure for whom I have more disdain: the outright global warming deniers obviously in the pocket of industry or the quisling enviros who coddle up to industry and sign off on weak if not bad policy, all while benefiting from their own funding — though not as obvious and in some cases indirect — from these corporate interests who are also underwriting the anti-environmental think tanks and Republicans.

  9. #9 Lance
    July 30, 2007

    “I wonder how the incorrigible AGW deniers will spin this. Are Warner and Graham misled, or are they political opportunists trying to seize the issue from the Dems?”

    Well Fred, as the resident “incorrigible AGW denier” (funny how you howl whenever you feel slighted by what you see as my “loaded language” but have no problem hurling invective of your own) I would say that the proposal is probably the result of a little of both.

    Certainly none of the sponsors of this legislation have the scientific acumen to know whether we really face a threat from AGW. They are exposed to the same onslaught of scaremongering as the general public. They are also quite aware of the advantageous of looking like you are “out in front” of a political issue which AGW has certainly become.

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