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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Senator Jeffords Introduces Global Warming Legislation - Includes National Renewable Energy Standard

Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced sweeping legislation that - if enacted - would for the first time set the U.S. on a path to decrease and, in time, reverse the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. It also includes, among other measures, a national renewable energy mandate and aggressive national energy efficiency standards.

"The science is clear, mankind is heating the planet in a manner that is destructive," said Jeffords, who called upon the United States to take its rightful place as a world leader. "We can no longer afford to watch from the sidelines. We are a nation of innovators, and we have the skills to develop the technology to make these needed changes."

The following are highlights of Jeffords' Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act:

  • Requires that the U.S. reduce its emissions between 2010 and 2020 to 1990 levels. By 2030, the U.S. must reduce its emissions by 1/3 of 80% percent below 1990 levels; by 2040 by 2/3 of 80% percent below 1990 levels; and by 2050, to a level that is 80 percent below 1990 levels.

  • Requires that power plants, automobiles and carbon-intensive businesses reduce their global warming pollution.

  • In the event that global atmospheric concentrations exceed 450 parts per million or that average global temperatures increase above 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average, EPA can require additional reductions.

  • Provides for standards and grants for sequestration of greenhouse gases.

  • The National Academy of Sciences will report to EPA and the Congress to determine whether goals of the Act have been met.

  • Requires the U.S. to derive 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

  • Establishes energy efficiency standards similar those found in California and ten other states.

  • Invests in innovative technologies.

  • "This legislation is a flexible and forward-thinking approach to combating the threat of global warming. Senator Jeffords has laid down an important marker for us to work toward, so that our children and our grandchildren will see that we had the wisdom and leadership to choose a better path for our world," said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the bill's lead co-sponsor.

    Senators joining Jeffords and Boxer as original co-sponsors are Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).


  • Summary of the Bill

  • Well, this is just about the full laundry list of all the things I'd like to see passed at the federal level - well it's missing any serious measures addressing the transportation sector (i.e. increasing fuel economy standards, etc.) which would be necessary to actually achieving the GHG reduction targets.

    Of course, this bill will probably never move out of committee. The list of sponsors seems like all the usual dems, but without any republicans supporting it, it is unlikely to go anywhere. Plus, it's asking for quite a lot in one package - probably because Jeffords et al. know it doesn't really have a chance of passing anyway. If Jeffords was really interested in getting legislation passed (at least in the current political climate) he'd try just one or two of these measures on their own.

    Still, it's nice to see this kind of legislation at least being discussed. Maybe it will make it to the floor (maybe) and get some debate at least, which could yield some progress towards a bill that could actually be passed. Anyway, I applaud all those supporting this bill for putting it out there. It's exactly the kind of thing we need to set us on the right track towards a sustainable energy future. But I won't be holding my breath waiting for Congress to pass this bill and President Bush to sign it into law...


    Kris Schultz said...

    This is great legislation - and Senator Akaka, one of the co-sponsors of this bill - is in a heated primary and needs your help. You can read more about his earth-saving views at his website: and read updates about the race in many places on my blog:

    Basically, this primary is the reverse of the Lieberman/Lamont race, where a progressive incumbent is being challenged by a pro-Bush Democrat.

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