Mea culpa … as I have not had time to fully digest this material, but Senator Barbara Boxer has released a summary of the Manager’s Amendment to the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act. In the cover letter, Senator Boxer promises many things, including that this will be “deficit neutral” (sadly, not ‘reduce the deficit’ or putting funds in reserve) and that it
follows the very strong advice of scientists, who have told us what needs to be done to avert the catastrophic effects of unchecked global warming.
If this is true, if the revamped bill will follow that advice, the Manager’s Amendment should have drastic changes to the bill. Rather than a reduction of US green-house gas (GHG) emissions to about 1990 levels by 2020 and about a 63% reduction in US GHGs from 1990 levels by 2050, this bill would have a threshhold (minimum) of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Sadly, this is not the case. The bill’s targets don’t meet the basic (conservative) scientific guidance. Senator Boxer’s claim that this bill “follows the very strong advice” simply does not stand up to the briefest scrutiny.
To be clear, while the bill falls quite short of what scientists said several years ago was the minimum required to avoid catastrophic climate change, real-world changes are changing scientific understanding and heightening concerns. And, to be clear, if one takes people like James Hansen and Bill McKibben seriously, these IPCC targets are simply inadequate and we (the globe) need to be figuring out how to remove carbon from the atmosphere, rather than simply reduce our emissions. Thus, “very strong” advice would likely be to much greater reductions than those targets Lieberman-Warner fails to meet.
There are many other concerning aspects of this bill other than that minor issue of inadequate targets. While improved, the bill fails on basic principle grounds. Three core principles:
While Boxer looks to have improved the bill (perhaps most on the third with $800 billion in consumer relief), it still falls far short in each of these three categories.
And, this memo reads quite oddly (to this reader, at least). Does anyone else read this and think that the people involved are acting like they are playing with Monopoly money? That they are pulling numbers and ideas out of their …?
For example, look to the Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Title VIII) numbers. Isn’t it magical that the first three categories all require / receive exactly the same amount of money? $51 billion each, through 2050, for: efficient buildings; efficient equipment and appliances; and efficient manufacturing. And that $153 billion is a near match for the total amount of money dedicated to renewable energy in that same section ($150 billion).
Re Transportation, anyone else wonder why rail is not there? (Electrification of rail and movement from road (and air) to rail could have a major impact.)
To be honest, this short note probably does Senator Boxer’s efforts an injustice. It looks quite possible that the Manager’s Amendment is an improvement over the bill as voted out of committee. Possible … improvement. But, this “improvement” still does not make the Coal-Subsidy Act smart legislation or the right path forward for the nation and the globe.
For another review, see Kate Sheppard at Grist.