A long-awaited congressional debate on climate change is expected to begin next week in the Senate, which is poised to consider a sweeping bill to combat global warming. Republicans are not expected to block majority Democrats from proceeding to the bill when a test vote is held Monday night. Instead, they will probably reserve their fire for the legislation itself. The measure would cap emissions of greenhouse gases nationwide. To meet the cap, companies would either have to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions or buy pollution allowances on a market. The government would distribute some of these allowances free of charge, and sell the rest at an auction to fund various programs to reduce costs and invest in clean energy technology. Senate critics of this cap-and-trade legislation say they welcome the debate as an opportunity to highlight concerns about its impact on the economy. Senators are taking up the proposal just as growing public concern about global warming converges with worries about historically high oil and gas prices. It is not clear that the bill can make it through the Senate, let alone win enactment this year. It will need 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster, and even if it can clear Congress, President Bush has long been hostile to such legislation.
A friend emailed me a call for action from Kristin Johnson – Grassroots Mobilization Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. I was happy to email their letter to my Senators but I suspect they will both vote for the Climate Security Act which is being sponsored by these Senators, which include a few well respected Republicans. A year ago, John Whitehead discussed why he thinks cap-and-trade can have similar results as emission taxes.
Update: I found two op-eds on this bill. The NYTimes favors it. Jim Manzi of the National Review rehashes an NRO op-ed opposing it. Manzi and the NRO oped cite some scare number about GDP losses put forth by the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The SAIC fraud was earlier highlighted by Phil Kerpen and debunked by yours truly.