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GLOBAL WARMING: Climate change bill puts senators on the hot seat
Detroit Free Press
10/29/03

At high altitudes and at both poles, ice is melting at rates that amaze most observers. Even the diehard anti-global warming crowd seems to accept that climate change is occurring, although they often argue it's a) a natural process, b) probably beneficial and c) more expensive to avert than tolerate.

So when the U.S. Senate takes up the subject in a debate scheduled to begin today, the reasons spouted to avoid action may be the most revealing. The idea that warming has benefits may be a particularly tough sell to Michiganders already disturbed by what happens when the Great Lakes drop near historic lows.

The relatively mild bill spurring the debate would set up a U.S. cap-and-trade market in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide; companies with fewer emissions than their cap could sell credits to companies with bigger emissions. The goal: returning to 2000 levels by 2010, and then ratcheting back gradually from there. An independent study has the cost to consumers reaching just $15-$20 a year by 2015.

Europe is starting this kind of market, and global firms ought to have a U.S. tie-in. A market also appeals to farmers, who can create credits to sell industries, as a balance to their emissions, by planting crops to absorb carbon dioxide.

No one expects the bill to pass, but each senator's vote and logic are of great interest to constituents. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, plans to vote for the bill, with the future of the Great Lakes in mind. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, is reviewing the most recent draft; he, too, needs to think about water, in the lakes and flowing off glaciers.

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