US Climate change bill stalls in Senate

kerry and co

From today’s Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON — In one of the proudest moments of his long legislative career, Senator John F. Kerry was poised to unveil a long-awaited climate change bill tomorrow that would put a price on carbon emissions and provide billions of dollars in incentives to industry to drastically cut greenhouse gases.

Kerry had brought business on board, and even forged something rare in Washington, a bipartisan compromise with a key Republican leader.

Then his effort ran headlong into the Senate’s partisan snarl, and last night the release of the bill was postponed indefinitely.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who had allied himself with Kerry on the issue, abruptly abandoned the effort last night, saying he was irate that the Senate’s Democratic leadership might proceed with a controversial immigration bill first.

Below is a summary of what the bill was to do:

  • Reduces carbon pollution 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 by capping emissions and auctioning pollution allowances.
  • Returns most proceeds of auction to consumers.
  • Initially sets price of carbon emissions between $10 and $25 a ton.
  • Requires emissions from transportation sector to be subject to a cap, but those industries would not trade allowances.
  • Delays enactment of program for industrial sources until 2016.
  • Prohibits states from enacting own greenhouse gas cap and trade programs; Environmental Protection Agency will not develop greenhouse gas rules.
  • Expands clean energy manufacturing tax by $5 billion.
  • Offers $2 billion a year in incentives to coal industry to develop clean coal alternatives.
  • Offers broad package of financial incentives for nuclear energy, including tax credits and loan guarantees.
  • Allows states to prohibit oil and gas exploration within 35 miles of their coastline.

Here is Senator Kerry’s response to the withdrawal of support for the bill:

“For more than six months, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, and I have been meeting for hours each day to find a bi-partisan path forward and build an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill this year.  We all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for Congress to pass a comprehensive approach. We believe that we had reached such an agreement and were excited to announce it on Monday, but regrettably external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily.

“I remain deeply committed to this effort which I have worked on for more than twenty years. We have no choice but to act this year. The American people deserve better than for the Senate to defer this debate or settle for an energy-only bill that won’t get the job done.

“Senator Graham came forward and has made a significant contribution to both the process and the product. Joe and I deeply regret that he feels immigration politics have gotten in the way and for now prevent him from being engaged in the way he intended. But we have to press forward. Lindsey has helped to build an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders from the environmental community and the industry who have been prepared to stand together behind a proposal. That can’t change. We can’t allow this moment to pass us by.

“Joe and I will continue to work together and are hopeful that Lindsey will rejoin us once the politics of immigration are resolved. We will continue to work and we will do everything necessary to be ready when the moment presents itself. The White House and Senate Leadership have told us from the start that this is the year for action, and until they tell us otherwise we’re pressing forward.”

The purpose of this post is not to take a side. It’s not to promote the bill, celebrate its movement, or hail its delay.

The purpose of this post is instead to illustrate the impact of climate disruption and what’s being done about it – agree or disagree – on project management.

Take a look at what the bill is about.  Can you imagine that any of these bullets, or at least most of them, trigger change, trigger activity, trigger projects?

Of course it will trigger projects.  It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on, that is simple mathematics.

Next, speaking of mathematics, we’d like  to draw your attention to another non-controversial fact.  The fact is that climate change is controversial.  I know – it’s a little convoluted, but yes, we’re saying that it is not controversial that this bill, that climate change itself, and what can and should be done about it, is controversial. And the mathematics?  This article from the Boston Globe had well over 200 comments posted within hours after it was published.  And know that one must register with the Globe in order to post comments, so it’s not as if these are trivial posts.  Many of them point to videos supporting or deflating the science of climate change.  People are interested and focused on this subject.

That’s why we think that no matter which side you’re on – or if you are riding the fence waiting for more information – in any of those cases, it makes sense to keep your attention here because it will affect your projects, your career, your paycheck, and (depending on your beliefs) the planet as well.

Stay tuned.  We’ll be doing our best to keep project managers up to date on these key green issues of concern.

Here are some links to the news stories about the climate change bill: