At today's Environment and Public Works Committee forum for senators to speak on global warming, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said, "This is the year to take an important first step on climate change, and the Carper-Alexander bill is the way to do it.
"I believe that there is a scientific consensus that human activity is having a significant influence on global temperature increases," said Alexander. "The right first step - as will be laid out in our legislation - is a market-based ‘cap and trade’ system that caps carbon dioxide emissions from electric utility generating plants in the U.S. and then permits utilities to trade their emission allowances. This would affect about 40 percent of the carbon dioxide produced in the U.S. Our bill takes an integrated approach by cleaning up the other big three pollutants - sulfur, mercury and nitrogen - while also addressing carbon."
The bipartisan Clean Air Planning Act was introduced by Alexander and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) in the last two Congresses and will be reintroduced next month. The legislation would control all four major pollutants from power plants, cutting sulfur dioxide emissions by 82 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by almost 68 percent, mercury emissions by 90 percent (without trading), and it would cap carbon dioxide emissions at 2001 levels. All of these reductions would be achieved by 2015. The bill also permits utilities to undertake projects such as planting trees, known as “offsets,” to reduce or capture carbon dioxide.
Alexander said that analyses conducted last year by the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrated that the objectives of his legislation could be achieved at a minimal cost by using offsets as provided for under the bill.
Alexander is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.