Thursday, August 21, 2008

110th Congress Climate Change Bills

Several climate change bills have been introduced during the 110th Congress aimed at reducing Greenhouse House Gas (GHG) emissions. All of the proposed legislation amends the Clean Air Act and vests the President and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with responsibility for instituting a program of carbon caps and complimentary policies. This paper will focus on two of the most recent bills - - Senate bill S.3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 and House bill H.R. 6186, Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act or “iCAP.”

S. 3036 and H.R. 6186, as well as the other previously introduced bills, focus on the adoption of mitigation strategies but for the most part fail to include any mechanism for measuring and/or monitoring of GHG levels now and in the future. A comprehensive national climate change policy needs to be comprised of two goals: 1) mitigation strategies to include emissions reductions, renewable energy and efficient technologies and 2) measurement and monitoring protocols to collect climatological data. Such data is necessary in order to establish current baselines and evaluate future performance of mitigation strategies and well as provide climatalogical forecasts so that adaptation strategies can be adopted. Two standalone bills introduced in the Senate, S. 2307 and S. 2355 do call for measuring and monitoring activities and are discussed in detail in Section II below.

S. 3036 Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008

· Requires the Administrator of the EPA to establish: (1) a federal GHG registry, for which certain facilities must report information regarding fossil fuels and GHGs produced and consumed; (2) specified quantities of GHG emission allowances, which decline for each of 2012 to 2050; and (3) a GHG emission allowance transfer system for specified covered facilities, including facilities that use more than 5,000 tons of coal in a year, facilities in the natural gas sector, facilities that produce or entities that import petroleum- or coal- based fuel the combustion of which will emit a group I GHGs, facilities that produce or entities that import, in any year, more than 10,000 carbon dioxide equivalents of chemicals that are group I GHGs, and facilities that emit as a byproduct of the production of hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) more than 10,000 carbon dioxide equivalents of HFCs in any year.

  • Annual caps on covered sectors combine to equal an overall goal of reducing total U.S. emissions through a combination of a cap on about 87% of emissions (includes a separate cap on HFCs in commerce) and complementary policies (e.g. low carbon fuels standard and energy efficiency standard). However, emissions from uncovered sectors may continue to grow.
  • Provides for the allocation and distribution of emission allowances to states and facilities on the basis of emission reductions, energy savings, state programs that exceed federal emission reduction targets. Allocates free allowances of 75.5% to power plants, manufacturers, electricity and natural gas and states. 4.25% set-aside for domestic agriculture and forestry.

· Establishes: (1) a domestic offset program to sequester GHGs; (2) the Bonus Allowance Account for carbon capture and sequestration projects; (3) the Carbon Market Efficiency Board, which shall analyze the national GHG emission market and implement cost relief measures if the market poses significant harm to the U.S. economy; (4) the Climate Change Credit Corporation, to which specified percentages of emission and remainder emission allowances for 2012-2050 shall be allocated and which shall auction such allowances annually; and (5) the Deficit Reduction Fund into which auction proceeds shall be deposited.

· Requires the President to establish: (1) an interagency group to determine whether foreign countries have addressed GHGs; and (2) an Interagency Climate Change Task Force.

  • No monitoring or measuring requirements per se. Closest provision, Section 7001, requires the National Academy of Science Review to issue reports to Congress no later than January 1, 2012 and every 3 years thereafter to evaluate the latest scientific information and data relevant to global climate change. Specifically cites NOAA ocean and wildlife concerns but not weather.
  • S. 3036, originally introduced as S. 2191 was approved by Environment and Public Works Committee and was sent to Senate floor for consideration. Failure to gain cloture resulted in no further action for this legislation.

H.R. 6186 Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act or “iCAP Act

· Allows EPA to designate new greenhouse gases and directs EPA to determine the quantity of each greenhouse gas that makes the same contribution to global warming as one metric ton of carbon dioxide. EPA is also directed to establish a national greenhouse gas registry.

· Subtitle A establishes a process through Subtitle B directs EPA to establish a separate quantity of emission allowances for each calendar year from 2012 through 2050. The bill covers emissions of carbon dioxide. The bill requires the owner or operator of each ``covered entity,'' at the end of each calendar year from 2012 through 2050, to submit to EPA one emission allowance for each metric ton of carbon.

· A covered entity may submit domestic or international offset credits approved by EPA in lieu of emission allowances to satisfy up to 15 percent of its compliance requirement. A covered entity may also submit destruction credits--issued by EPA to entities that convert a greenhouse gas (other than methane) to a gas with a lower global warming potential--in lieu of emission allowances.

· Annual caps on covered sectors to equal an overall goal of reducing 85 percent of emissions. HFC emissions are not covered until 2020, which increases to 87 percent overall reductions.

· Directs EPA to auction virtually all of the emission allowances each year, beginning with 94 percent auction from 2012-2019 and transitioning to 100 percent auction in 2020. Six percent of allowances from 2012 through 2019 will be distributed to U.S. manufacturers of trade-exposed primary goods (such as iron and steel, cement, aluminum, bulk glass, and paper) as a transitional measure to avoid shifting production abroad.

· Directs EPA to promulgate performance standards for certain sources not included under the cap--such as coal mines, landfills, wastewater treatment operations, and large animal feeding operations--that emit at least 10,000 metric tons CO

· Title II creates a new Office of Carbon Market Oversight (``OCMO'') within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is charged with ensuring transparency, fairness, and stability in the market for emission allowances, offset credits, and derivatives thereof (collectively referred to as ``regulated instruments''). The OCMO will establish rules requiring registration of (1) self-regulating ``registered carbon trading facilities'' on which regulated instruments are traded, (2) ``carbon clearing organizations'' that provide clearing services to trading facilities, and (3) brokers and dealers trading in regulated instruments.

· Under Subtitle B, an estimated $963 billion (12.5 percent of auction proceeds) will be used to fund low-carbon energy technology programs administered by the Department of Energy. These include existing RD&D programs for renewable electricity generation, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), electric transmission and distribution efficiency, cellulosic ethanol, low-emission vehicles, building and industrial efficiency, energy storage technologies, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Subtitle B also establishes new programs to promote the deployment of large-scale and distributed renewable energy generation and to provide cost-sharing grants to cover the incremental costs of implementing CCS technology at coal-fired power plants that commence construction before 2020.

· Under Subtitle D, an estimated $378 billion (4.5 to 5 percent of auction proceeds) will be used to fund a program, administered by the Department of Agriculture, to support projects by U.S. farmers and foresters that increase biological sequestration of carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved agricultural soil management and forest management practices. USDA is also directed to undertake a supporting program of research, education, and outreach.

· Under Subtitle F, an estimated $185 billion (2 to 2.5 percent of auction proceeds) will be used to support a comprehensive program to increase America's resilience to the impacts of climate change. Under this program, NOAA will periodically assess America's vulnerability to such impacts and provide assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal decision makers in developing adaptation strategies. Subtitle F directs federal agencies to develop and implement plans to address climate change impacts within their jurisdictions and provides funding for State, local and tribal government projects to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts.

· Under Subtitle G, an estimated $147 billion (1.5 to 2 percent of auction proceeds) will be used to support measures, implemented by federal land and natural resource management agencies, the States, and Indian tribes to protect U.S. natural resources, wildlife, and fisheries against adverse impacts from climate change.

· Title VII establishes a comprehensive framework for periodic review and reports to Congress, by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and relevant federal agencies, of all major aspects of the bill. Every five years, an interagency body will make recommendations to the President, and the President will in turn make recommendations to Congress, on changes to the framework established by the bill. Title VII also provides for expedited Congressional consideration of a presidential recommendation to tighten the bill's emissions cap if the NAS's findings indicate such action is necessary.

· Status –The bill has been referred to several house committees with jurisdiction. On June 12, 2008, referred to Subcommittee of Energy and Environment of the House Science and Technology Committee.



Two bills have been introduced in the Senate that would require the implementations of national programs to undertake climate monitoring - - S. 2355, introduced on November 14, 2007 by Senator Cantwell cited as the “Climate Change Adaptation Act” and S. 2307 introduced by Senator Kerry on November 5, 2007 and cited as the “Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007.”

S. 2355, Climate Change Adaptation Act

Senator Cantwell’s bill would amend the National Climate Program Act and require the President to provide Congress with a 5-year strategic plan to address the impacts of climate change within the United States. The plan must identify opportunities to utilize remote sensing and other geospatial technologies to improve planning for adaptation to climate change impacts. The bill would establish a National Climate Service to be established within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. S.2355 remains in Committee.

S. 2307, Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007

Senator Kerry’s bill would amend the Global Change Research Act of 1990 to provide for the continuation and coordination of a comprehensive United States observation, research, assessment and outreach program to better understand the effects of climate change. To accomplish this goal the bill would require the development of a strategic plan for the United States for a 10 year period beginning in 2008. The plan must incorporate observing systems for collecting data relevant to global and regional climate change research and prioritize additional observation systems that may be needed to ensure adequate data collection and monitoring of global change. This bill would also require the development of indicators, baseline databases, and ongoing monitoring to document global change, including species distribution and behavior, changes in oceanic and atmospheric chemistry, extent of ice sheets, glaciers, and snow cover, shifts in water distribution and abundance, and changes in sea level. This bill remains in Committee.

Source( The Alliance for Earth Observation )

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