Sen. Boxer disses the safety valve

Climate Progress is not a fan of the safety valve. Turns out Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) isn’t either. E&E News reports today:

A fundamental component of a new Senate global warming bill unveiled this week to much fanfare was dismissed outright today by the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Barbara Boxer told reporters today she disagreed with the “safety valve” provision that Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) inserted in their attempt to establish mandatory limits on heat-trapping pollution in the United States. Bingaman, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, included the clause in his bill to help assure nervous lawmakers about the limited economic effects of a new mandatory U.S. climate policy.

But taking the side of many mainstream environmental groups, Boxer cautioned that the safety valve in Bingaman’s legislation would hamper growth in new energy technologies. “A safety presents problems because the business people tell us it will undermine the certainty of their investments,” Boxer said. “I think it’s a problem, and most business people don’t want it.”

The rest of the story is here:

Under the Bingaman-Specter legislation, industries participating in the cap-and-trade program would know in 2012 — the first year of the program — that they do not have to pay more than $12 for emitting one ton of carbon dioxide pollution. The safety valve rises 5 percent a year over inflation, and advocates of the plan think the price level is high enough that new energy technologies will develop in such a rapid fashion that the clause won’t get triggered.

For some senators, the safety valve is an important element necessary to win their support.

“That was a real criteria for me,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in an interview yesterday. “”I’m not a believer that we need to drive this thing off the edge before we do something responsible. I think the Bingaman-Specter approach is the most responsible approach that’s out there right now.”

Murkowski twice voted on the Senate floor against mandatory limits on greenhouse gas pollution. Her conversion, along with Specter and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), raises the prospect that advocates of a cap-and-trade plan are within striking distance of the crucial 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome a filibuster.

The California Democrat also praised Bingaman for his contribution to the climate debate and promised to include some of its pieces in the bill she hopes will emerge from her committee this fall.

“Although there are certain things about it I don’t like, and there are things about my bill he doesn’t like, he has moved in certain ways that are very interesting and with some very interesting ideas that I think will wind up in the bill that I get through my committee,” Boxer said.

Asked to elaborate about the merits of the Bingaman bill, Boxer said she was interested in an idea backed by major labor groups that would require major U.S. trading partners such as China and India to purchase pollution credits if they do not have sufficient global warming policies in place.

Boxer also said she was not focused on the 60-vote threshold or winning President Bush’s signature.

“My goal is to get the best bill I can out of my committee,” she said. “From there, it has a lot of roads it has to travel. I can’t predict what the roads are. I can’t predict what the news will be between now and then. Maybe there’ll be some news that will turn some people around.”

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