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Climate Bill – Headlines from across the country

Here are some of the latest headlines from across the country:

Here are some of the latest headlines from across the country:

By Sean Reilly
Published: October 15, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Jeff Sessions voiced skepticism Wednesday about proposals to combat climate change by creating a government-regulated market to reduce the use of coal and other fossil fuels that produce heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
"Our conceit is such that we think we can manage the climate, we think we can manage a huge portion of the most dynamic economy the world's ever known, and I'm wary of it," Sessions, R-Mobile, said at a Senate energy committee hearing.
The almost two-hour session was mostly devoted to the potential economic impact of a "cap and trade" system to curb greenhouse emissions. While skeptics remain, the bulk of climate scientists now agree that such emissions are already warming the planet, with effects that could ultimately include increased coastal flooding, more powerful hurricanes and prolonged droughts in some parts of the country.
Under the cap and trade approach, wrapped into a bill passed in  June by the House of Representatives, companies would get permits to release a certain volume of greenhouse gases but could then buy additional allowances from other firms.
The idea is to discourage the use of fossil fuels, particularly coal, by making them more expensive. But Wednesday's hearing offered a lesson in the difficulty of forecasting the effects.
The House bill, for example, would shave between one and 3-1/2 percentage points off the growth in theUnited States' total economic output by 2050, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
But because the nation's economy is expected to be about 2½ times larger by that point, the office's director, Douglas Elmendorf, described that reduction Wednesday as "comparatively modest." The budget office's estimates also do not account for the possible benefits of averting climate change, he said.
Amid intense lobbying by environmental and industry groups, the Senate has yet to produce its own climate measure. Alabama and Mississippi stand to be affected regardless of whether a bill is ever signed into law.
Last year, for example, a government report warned that "a vast portion" of the Gulf Coast from Houston to Mobile could be inundated in the next 50 to 100 years if global temperatures continue to rise unabated.
Because both states get significant amounts of electricity from coal-fired power plants, residents could see higher bills under a cap-and-trade plan.
"We're going to have to look at more options for energy," Adam Snyder, executive director of the environmental group, Conservation Alabama, said in an interview last week while in the nation's capital to meet with staffers for Sessions and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa.
At Wednesday's hearing, Sessions was also concerned about the possible expansion of government entailed by a cap-and-trade program, at one point asking how many regulators would be needed.
Elmendorf did not have an answer, but said his agency had estimated that total administrative costs for the House bill -- which contains many other provisions besides the cap- and-trade plan -- would be $8.2 billion over the next decade.
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CBO Director: There Are Cost Involved with Cap and Trade
 
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf testified on October 14 before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to discuss the economic effects of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the effects – most notably the effects of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade legislation. Although Elmendorf felt that Waxman-Markey could greatly reduce the long-term risks of climate change, he acknowledged that “such legislation would also reduce economic activity through a number of different channels.”
Note: Director Elmendorf’s expertise is budgets and economics, not climate science.
Some of the channels mentioned the CBO director’s testimony include: shifting production, investment, and employment away from lower cost carbon-based energy industries and carbon energy-intensive goods and services towards higher cost alternatives; reducing productivity of existing capital and labor, reducing household income, discouraging investment both domestically and from international sources, and reducing employment and workers’ real wages.
Read more on Heritage
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CBO: Climate bill will impose ‘some cost’ to the economy
 
Climate legislation designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions will have little effect on overall employment but could hit particular industries hard, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director told a Senate panel Wednesday.
Douglas Elmendorf, CBO director, said the development of new technologies and the growth of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels will largely offset jobs losses elsewhere. 
But industries that produce or use fossil fuels like coal “intensively” could see their employment levels decline due to a cap on carbon.

“The shifts will be significant,” Elmendorf said
Read more on The Hill
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Congressional Budget Chief Says Climate Bill Would Cost Jobs
 
The head of the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday countered Obama administration claims that a landmark climate bill would be a boost to the economy.
President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats championing the bill have said mandating greenhouse-gas caps, renewable energy and efficiency standards would be a boon to an ailing economy, creating new low-carbon industries. Millions of so-called green jobs would be created under the cap-and-trade legislation being considered in the Senate, Democrats say.
CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf warned a Senate energy panel that there would be "significant shifts" from emissions-intense sectors such as oil and refining firms to low-carbon businesses such as wind and solar power.
Read more on the Wall Street Journal
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Farm Bureau Aims to Kill Climate Bill
 
The politically influential American Farm Bureau, the self-described“national voice of agriculture,” has outlined a new campaign effort to derail Congressional bills to combat climate change.
In a memo obtained Wednesday by Green Inc. and addressed to state farm bureau directors, the group’s public-relations director, Don Lipton, wrote:
Climate change bills in both the Senate and House will impact our farmers and ranchers, hit America’s consumers and impair the economy of our nation. For farmers and ranchers, it will mean higher fuel and fertilizer costs, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions. For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress.
The authenticity of the memo was confirmed by Cody Lyon, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s director of grassroots and political advocacy.
The campaign’s slogan will be “Don’t CAP Our Future”
Read more on the New York Times
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The Costs of Cap and Trade and the Costs of Doing Nothing
 
The economic losses from carbon emissions cap-and-trade policies are often compared with “the cost of doing nothing.” CBO director Doug Elmendorf in his testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee labels these costs as nonmarket impacts. These include effects of human health, loss of species’ habitats, and other destruction to wildlife and ecosystems. He points to a study by William Nordhaus and Joseph Boyer that found an 11 degree Fahrenheit increase by 2100 translates to an almost 5 percent drop in output.
This is a common argument made by proponents of the legislation. However, those who make this argument do not carry the analysis through in a rigorous way, which renders the argument simply a strawman.
This “opportunity cost” of doing nothing must be discounted by the actual effect the “doing something” will have. Doing something like cap-and-trade, does not mitigate climate change entirely and therefore the (negative) opportunity foregone (i.e., the expected climate change) is not the full benefit.
Read more on Heritage
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Uphill climb to 60 votes on climate bill
 
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham announced his support for a climate bill this year on Sunday — but Democrats still face a steep climb to gain broad bipartisan backing for the legislation.
Democrats need just a handful of Republicans to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Senate filibuster — if they can persuade skeptical coal- and manufacturing-state Democrats to support the bill.
But while environmentalists heralded Graham’s support as a “game changer,” any climate bill still faces steep obstacles in the Senate.
“We are also convinced that we have found … a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress,” Graham wrote in a Sunday New York Times op-ed co-authored with Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry. “It begins now, not months from now — with a road to 60 votes in the Senate.”
But Graham, who is not backing the climate change bill introduced by Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) last month, admits that getting Republican votes for any climate bill will be a tough sell.
Read more on Politico
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Sen. Lindsey Graham working with Sen. John Kerry on climate bill
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina publicly announced his support for climate legislation on Sunday in an op-ed column with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
"Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence," the two senators wrote in The New York Times. "It begins now, not months from now — with a road to 60 votes in the Senate."
Graham's support is a major win for climate supporters, who are seeking Republican support for climate legislation. A climate bill passed the House in last June, but prospects for the legislation have dimmed amid the contentious health care debate.
Read more on Politico

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U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions 'wary' of cap-and-trade system to fight global warming
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