What's in the climate change bill?

Here's a summary.

Boxer and Sanders' legislation contains many features that McKibben and other activists support:

-- It would impose a fee, starting at $20 per ton of carbon emissions (or the methane equivalent), at nearly 3,000 production facilities, such as coal mines, oil refineries and natural gas processing plants. This way, the fee would be imposed on the fossil-fuel producers themselves, responsible for an estimated 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Congressional Research Service.

-- Three-fifths of the $1.2 trillion in revenues from the carbon fees would be devoted to a system for returning money to consumers, to offset the inevitable price increases when energy companies try to pass along the costs of the fees.

-- The legislation also proposes a large-scale investment program to promote energy efficiency in U.S. homes, finance research and implementation of sustainable energy projects, and devote $1 billion to job training and transition programs to move workers into clean energy jobs.

-- The bill also adopts a separate proposal to protect communities from natural gas fracking--for example, by eliminating the so-called Halliburton exemption that prevents federal agencies from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

... the real question is whether Obama and other leading Democrats will take up the legislation and fight for it. Boxer made a telling admission to Politico that she and Sanders hadn't asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for support. This reinforces the common sense among media analysts that the legislation is symbolic and doesn't stand a chance of becoming law.

The Democrats have a history of allowing liberals to propose progressive measures, knowing full well that the Republicans will shoot them down and the party as a whole will do nothing to stop it. Whether Boxer and Sanders' legislation survives this fate will depend on whether the environmental movement ... continues to step up the pressure.

Boxer and Sanders undercut the "fee-and-dividend" plan in a crucial respect: Their legislation would only rebate 60 percent of revenues from the carbon fee, leaving the likelihood that consumers would [shoulder] part of the price increases--since energy companies wouldn't be restricted in any way from passing on the cost.

Worse, the two Democrats make a completely unnecessary nod to "deficit hawks" by proposing that 25 percent of carbon fee revenues be used to reduce the deficit. The real solution to the deficit is taxing the rich.

The 100 percent redistribution of the carbon fee is a crucial element of James Hansen's climate change "exit strategy." [emphasis mine]

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Replies to This Discussion

Revenues from the carbon fees would be returned to consumers?

That defeats the carbon fee's purpose, which is to increase the cost of using carbon.

We know the Republicans are hard-hearted; must the Democrats prove again that they are soft-headed?

Who besides me remembers the Mariel Boat Lift?


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