The New Global Warming Bill

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 31, 2009 9:00 pm

House Dems are taking climate change seriously.  The bill unveiled today would not only cap green house gases, but diminish our dependence on coal and oil (full text and summary available).  From the New York Times:

The draft measure, written by Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, sets a slightly more ambitious goal for capping heat-trapping gases than Mr. Obama’s proposal. The bill requires that emissions be reduced 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, while Mr. Obama’s plan calls for a 14 percent reduction by 2020. Both would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases by roughly 80 percent by 2050.

Joe’s got an interesting analysis:

Some version of this bill seems likely to get through the House. But it does not appear likely it could get 60 votes in the Senate. The two big unknown questions are:

  •  Will some of the moderate Democratic Senators who might feel they can’t vote for the bill also vote to filibuster it?

Read the details over at Climate Progress


Comments (3)

  1. We are enjoying the quietest sun since 1913 plus Mt. Redoubt blowing particulates and sulfuric acid mist into the lower stratosphere. A short cool 2009 growing season re WWII and the late 1950s will flummox the Green Revolution, then tens of millions will starve. Is that sufficiently cool?

    Capturing and sequestering CO2 requires 30-50% of a fossil fuel powerplant’s output. PV is energy, 101.325 joules/liter-atmosphere plus latent heats of phase changes plus proces inefficiences. It is something to bring joy into Enviro-whiner Luddites’ trinity: expensive, shoddy deadly.

    Shoddy, at the birth of the industrial revolution, was the first recycled wool. How well did that work out? Dominus et magister noster Iesus Christus dicendo “Poenitentiam agite adpropinquavit enim regnum caelorum” omnem vitam fidelium penitentiam esse voluit. Non tamen solam intendit interiorem, immo interior nulla est, nisi foris operetur varias carnis mortificationes. Get over it – we have science now (though you wouldn’t know it in Texas).

  2. MadScientist

    These one-upmanships on how much to cut CO2 emissions by always annoys me; for years now it’s been talk, talk, talk and despite the Kyoto agreement there has only been an increase in CO2 emissions, no significant decreases. I don’t care if politicians say they’ll reduce emissions by 0.5% by 2020; what is important is that they fund development of various technologies and support an economic model which will allow investors to proceed with current plans without suffering an effectively self-imposed loss of profits. Many corporations have already invested many hundreds of millions on mitigation technology but there is no economic incentive to conduct more large scale trials or full commercial operations. Corporation X will not deploy such technology if Corporation Y can sit back, do nothing, and reap a larger profit – the shareholders will immediately kick out the CEO of Corporation X.

    Any bills declaring some form of support are only a start though; there are huge issues still to be resolved such as what technologies will be permitted, how to issue permits, how to establish industry best practices and minimum expectations, and so on. It could be 2015 before most of those issues are resolved on a federal level to the satisfaction of most parties involved and then there may be yet other issues at the state levels. Then comes all the other work – gearing up to deploy any technology can take anywhere from 2 to 10 years. 2020 can go speeding by with nothing significant accomplished. One aim stated by a group discussing CO2 geosequestration was that 20 plants should be commissioned by 2020 with each plant sequestering on average 1 million metric tons per year; someone at the meeting stood up and said “If that’s your aim then I’m wasting my time here; we may as well tell the world we’ve failed”. His reason was that every two weeks China commisions a new coal-fired power plant which will emit over 20 million metric tons CO2 per year, so the planned remediation can’t even keep up with a small portion of China’s growing CO2 output, never mind the rest of the world.

    I can’t recall what the EU’s aims were with its Emissions Trading Scheme, but that scheme is a proven catastrophic failure – all this legislation with good intentions but no positive results.

    I don’t mean to sound like the situation is hopeless; I only want to point out that politicians talking doesn’t really amount to much – there is far more to be settled and it’s not a simple matter. Laws cannot change reality overnight, if they can affect reality much at all.

  3. Glad I stumbled into this article! Finally, got what I was looking for to put on my school report


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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