In the coming weeks the legislation will come to a full vote on the floor of the Senate. The bill calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 71% below 2005 levels by 2050 – phased in at 4% by 2012 and 19% by 2020.
The EPA’s own analysis states that, despite many opponent’s claims of economic ruin, the bill “would not significantly harm the U.S. economy over the next 20 years”. (The full EPA analysis – 193 pages – is available in pdf)
The typical right-wing economic alarmism aside, there are serious concerns about the bill from environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. Sean Casten gives a good summary of the objections in a post at Grist but the upshot is that many feel the bill doesn’t mandate the kind of emissions reduction scientists say is needed to avoid the worst of global warming (80% below 1990 levels by 2050), is too cumbersome in its implementation, and rewards corporate polluters, in part by directing auction revenues mandated the bill to fossil fuel and automotive industries. (Friends of the Earth has an analysis of these “giveaways” here in, you guessed it, pdf)
However, not everyone thinks it’s so bad. The Natural Resources Defense Council calls for a “strengthened” bill but urges that the time is now for decisive legislative action on climate change. (Ready for another pdf? Here’s a guide from the NRDC outlining what they suggest is needed in any effective climate change legislation and a comparison of the various bills before the 110th Congress)
I couldn’t agree more on that point. But from what I have read, I am concerned that making a blunder now would set us back even further. Given the lack of leadership from Washington these past eight years, that is something we simply can’t afford.
So what to do? I think the best thing to do is contact your senator and express 1) the urgent need for decisive leadership and 2) the concerns expressed by responsible environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and the NRDC (though their objections to the current Lieberman-Warner bill aren’t as specific), and other independent analysis.
Here’s what I’ll do to try to make it easer, in the next few days, I’ll draft a letter that we can all use to address our senators, with a link to make it easier to find the email address or fax number of your senator. Just cut and paste.
We desperately need leadership from Washington, but we need the right leadership.