Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waxman-Markey: cutting emissions by 83% by 2050

Climate is a driving force in the energy efficiency and renewable effort, and climate makes up the heart of Waxman-Markey.

The key title in the bill, Reducing Global Warming Pollution, has the alternate title, the Safe Climate Act.

This is the sixth in RaisingIslands' series on what's in the legislation, which is alternatively called Waxman-Markey, HR2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, or ACES. The bill is now being considered by the Senate.

For those folks who still don't grasp the global climate threat, the Safe Climate Act will be a bucket of ice water in the face. Its language is unequivocal:

“Global warming poses a significant threat to the national security, economy, public health and welfare, and environment of the United States, as well as of other nations.

“ Reviews of scientific studies, including by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate that global warming is the result of the combined anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from numerous sources of all types and sizes. Each increment of emission, when combined with other emissions, causes or contributes materially to the acceleration and extent of global warming and its adverse effects for the lifetime of such gas in the atmosphere. Accordingly, controlling emissions in small as well as large amounts is essential to prevent, slow the pace of, reduce the threats from, and mitigate global warming and its adverse effects.”

That language unfortunately glosses over the fact that the science suggests human-caused factors are a major cause of climate change, but that the current science doesn't argue it's the only cause.

The bill calls for an aggressive program to cut the production of greenhouse gases, using the year 2005 as the baseline. It wants to cut emissions to 97 percent of 2005 by 2012, 58 percent in 2030 and 17 percent in 2050.

To ensure progress, the act would establish a strict monitoring system, overseen by The National Academy of Sciences.

There are many greenhouse gases, and the bill establishes a scale, using carbon dioxide equivalence to measure and compare them. With Methane, for instance, a far more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, one ton of it is counted as 25 tons of carbon dioxide.

The federal government will establish a greenhouse gas registry to track the production of these gases in the U.S. That, of course, is key to the management of the greenhouse gas production—knowing who's producing it, in what amounts, and where.

The government will create things called emission allowances. They would be regulated under the Clean Air Act by the Environmental Protection Agency. This is perhaps the most controversial piece of Waxman-Markey, and we'll deal with it in the next post.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2009

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