House Democratic leaders Tuesday unveiled a proposal to reduce the gases blamed for global warming from power plants, transportation and factories by 80 percent by 2050.
The draft legislation, which will be refined in coming months for introduction next year, would begin slowly, capping emissions of heat-trapping gases released by transportation and power plants first, then moving to other sectors of the economy. The money earned from auctioning off some of the permits would be redirected to energy efficiency and clean technologies. In later years, all permits would be sold with the proceeds going back to the taxpayer, unless Congress reauthorizes the bill.
“Politically, scientifically, legally, and morally, the question has been settled: Regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States is coming,” wrote House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., and energy and air quality subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., in a letter explaining the 461-page draft, which has been in the works for two years.
The only questions are when and how.
With the economy in turmoil, prospects have dimmed for legislation that would create a massive new market for carbon dioxide and in the short-term likely increase energy costs. The bill tries to address the economic concerns by excluding small businesses and increasing the number of permits when prices spike.
But Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the committee's senior Republican, said Tuesday the bill would still lead the country off “the economic cliff.”