Feinstein urges action on global warming
By Dena Bunis
The Orange County Register
Published January 17, 2006
WASHINGTON – Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday unveiled
a global-warming bill for the electricity sector that
has the support of such major power companies as the Pacific
Gas & Electric Corp.
Feinstein, D-Calif., has teamed up with Sen. Thomas Carper,
D-Del., on the latest in a series of bills on climate
change that are being introduced by senators in the first
weeks of the 110th Congress.
Their bill would reduce electricity emissions to 25 percent
below what they are expected to be by 2020.
To meet that cap, energy companies could participate
in a "cap and trade" program. Under that plan,
companies could either change the way they produce electricity
and lower their carbon dioxide emissions themselves or
pay others who have reduced their emissions for credits.
Companies could then use those credits to meet their emission
targets without actually lowering their own outputs.
"A scientific consensus has been forged," Feinstein
said at a news conference. "Global warming is real.
It's happening. It can't be stopped. But if we act now,
and we if act with purpose, the most serious consequences
can be averted."
PG&E Corp. Chairman Peter A. Darbee, said passing
a bill to "cap greenhouse gas emissions at the federal
level is the greatest way of efficiently addressing climate
change and a necessary step in positioning the U.S. as
a global leader on environmental issues."
The Bush administration and most Republican lawmakers
have opposed such caps. President Bush is expected to
outline his view of the climate change issue at next week's
State of the Union address.
Feinstein's bill would keep lowering the amount of allowable
emissions over time, something that has garnered the support
of environmental groups. But the provision that would
allow electric companies, for example, to buy credits
from farmers and other non-energy entities has those same
environmentalists concerned that in the end the most egregious
pollution will not be stopped.
Feinstein is planning to introduce other climate-change
bills. She is drafting a separate cap and trade bill for
the industrial sector, a measure that would increase fuel
economy standards by 10 miles per gallon over the next
decade, a bill to promote the use of biodiesel and other
low-carbon fuels and an energy efficiency bill modeled
after California's program.
The various approaches to climate change will be sorted
out by the Environment and Public Works Committee, under
the chairmanship of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Boxer is a co-sponsor of a bill that would set a lower
cap for emissions. Her bill would cut emissions to 80
percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.
"I welcome all bills on global warming,'' Boxer
said in a statement. "I am very pleased that my colleagues
are putting forward their best ideas, and I think that
Senator Feinstein is making an important contribution
to this debate. I know how hard she has worked on her
California last year became the first state to pass a
climate-change bill. It calls for a 25 percent reduction
in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive
order that provides for a cap and trade program to help
accomplish that goal.
There is a cap and trade experiment working in Southern
California. The South Coast Air Quality Management District
uses a cap and trade system to reduce smog-forming pollutants
– nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide – in the air.
That program has been in place since 1994. Agency spokesman
Sam Atwood said so far it has resulted in some industries
reducing their emissions through new equipment or updated
processes. Others, he said, have taken advantage of the
ability to buy credits from companies that have reduced
their pollution levels beyond what is required.
"It's been a success," says Atwood. He said
annual audits have shown that smog levels have been reduced
and that they have been lowered in the geographic areas
most in need of relief.
Feinstein and other senators who have global-warming
proposals will have a chance to pitch their ideas at a
committee hearing Boxer has called for later this month.
Boxer said she is committed to getting a global-warming
bill done during this Congress.