Subscribe: Hill Heat: Boucher, Dingell in House Energy Committee Call for Cap-and-Trade
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Preview: Hill Heat: Boucher, Dingell in House Energy Committee Call for Cap-and-Trade

Hill Heat: Boucher, Dingell in House Energy Committee Call for Cap-and-Trade



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Boucher, Dingell in House Energy Committee Call for Cap-and-Trade

Wed, 03 Oct 2007 14:28:00 -0400

As he previously announced he would, Energy and Commerce’s Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee chair Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) released the first of a series of white papers on climate legislation today, Scope of a Cap-and-Trade Program. Based on the hearings earlier this year, the Committee and Subcommittee Chairmen have reached the following conclusions: The United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 60 and 80 percent by 2050 to contribute to global efforts to address climate change. To do so, the United States should adopt an economy-wide, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program. The central component of this program should be a cap-and-trade program. Given the breadth of the economy that will be affected by a national climate change program and the significant environmental consequences at stake, it is important to design a fair program that obtains the maximum emission reductions at the lowest cost and with the least economic disruption. The Subcommittee and full Committee will draft legislation to establish such a program. Oddly, the white paper fails to mention a baseline for emissions reductions; the scientific consensus for the 80 percent reduction is from 1990 emissions levels. The white paper makes no recommendations on how credits should be allocated, though Boucher has stated his resistance to auctions in the past. Nor does it discuss interaction with foreign carbon markets or how to deal with imports from unregulated entities. The white paper argues that complementary measures are necessary: “Even with a broad-based cap-and-trade program, complementary measures (such as a carbon tax or other tax-based incentives, efficiency or other performance standards, or research and development programs) will also be needed. For example, funding for research, development, and deployment of new technologies would assist industries that will need to adopt new technologies. In addition, efficiency or other performance standards might be appropriate for some economic actors that would be inappropriate to include directly in a cap-and-trade program, but that should contribute to an economy-wide reduction program in some other way. Proposed measures range from Dingell’s carbon tax, increased CAFE standards, appliance and lighting efficiency standards, a federal renewable energy standard, to carbon sequestration funding. Further notes are below. Interestingly, the report draws extensively from the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions September report, Size Thresholds for Greenhouse Gas Regulation: Who Would be Affected by a 10,000-ton CO2 Emissions Rule? The Nicholas Institute is run by Sen. Lieberman’s former environmental counsel, Nick Profeta. A later white paper will discuss carbon offsets in the agricultural and industrial sector. Greenhouse gas emissions from other sources in [the industrial] sector (such as landfills) generally may not lend themselves to regulation under a cap-and-trade program if there is difficulty in measuring the emissions accurately. For example, EPA currently operates methane programs that encourages landfills and other soruces to capture gas and use it for electricity generation. . . . The agricultural sector, however, does have significant opportunities to reduce emissions that may lend themselves to measurement, which could make them appropriate as a source of credits or offsets in a cap-and-trade program…. [manure methane capture, cropland biological sinks]... A later White Paper will discuss the potential for using such reductions as offsets or credits as part of the cap-and-trade program.[...]