Graham, Kerry, Lieberman embrace market-based system to cut carbon pollution “in the range of 17%” by 2020 and 80%+ by 2050 — bipartisan backing for Obama’s Copenhagen pledge.

Lieberman: “We’re going to get this job done in this session of Congress”

“I believe the green economy is coming.  That’s not a question of if it’s going to happen, it’s just when it’s going to happen.  The sooner the better for me, because the jobs of the future lie in energy independence and cleaning up the environment….  Why can’t America have the cleanest air?”’s conservative Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaking at a today’s press conference with John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).  The group released a framework for their bipartisan climate and clean energy bill today (here).  Anyone who wants to understand what is going to happen next year in the Senate should listen to the event (here).

The bottom line:  We are likely to get a bipartisan, economy-wide bill on the Senate floor “early next year” as Kerry put it.  Lieberman said the bill would become law “in this session of Congress.” A lot of big news came out of the press conference.

First, the bipartisan group endorsed a cut in carbon pollution “in the range of 17%” by 2020 and 80% or more by 2050.  That matches the House bill, and equally important, it backs up the pledge the President has announced he is taking to Copenhagen (see Obama to attend Copenhagen, announces “a U.S. emissions reduction target in the range of 17% below 2005 levels in 2020″³).  That puts Obama on much firmer ground with world leaders.

Second, Lieberman said Reid asked the group to combine the Energy Committee’s bill with the Environment and Public Works bill to create a comprehensive bipartisan bill.  So the few Senators out there still pushing an energy-only bill are basically just spinning their wheels, which is to say, wasting energy.

Third, Lieberman said the group “rejected” both a carbon tax and old-fashioned command and control legislation.  He described their proposal as the “market-based system for punishing polluters previously known as-and-trade.”  Okay, that won’t catch on.   His tried and true, “polluter pays,” might.  Kerry repeated his phrase “pollution reduction incentive.”  Graham made clear that he — and most Republicans he has spoken to — understand that “unlimited carbon pollution” is not an option.  That’s why he endorses a mechanism that sets a carbon price.  We’ll learn in the coming months how many Rs he gets on board with him.  I’m guessing another four.

Fourth, yes, there is going to be a big nuclear component to this bill, as well as a boost for domestic drilling for oil and gas.  Not big news, I suppose, but it is central to Graham’s support for the bipartisan effort and his message.  This is, as they say, the price of admission for making this bipartisan effort work, for getting to 60 votes, which Lieberman says they don’t have yet, but he is confident they will.

Fifth, the framework itself is news for the totality of the content agreed to by these three key senators representing the three central blocks in Congress — progressive Democrats, moderate/conservative Dems, and Republicans who are seriously interested in working toward energy independence and cutting carbon pollution:

Framework for Climate Action and Energy Independence in the U.S. Senate

Carbon pollution is altering the earth’s climate. The impacts have already been seen and felt throughout our country and around the world. Monday’s endangerment finding by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) underscores the importance of Congressional action to address greenhouse gas emissions before the EPA moves unilaterally.

This document outlines the principles and guidelines that will shape our ongoing efforts to develop comprehensive climate change and energy independence legislation. It is a starting point, inviting our colleagues’ constructive input.

Our efforts seek to build upon the significant work already completed in Congress. Earlier this year, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed bipartisan legislation that will instruct our efforts to promote and achieve energy security. Important work to reduce carbon emissions has taken place in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which additionally informs us. We also anticipate consideration of issues related to climate change by the Senate Finance, Commerce, and Agriculture Committees.

It is critical to emphasize that this framework is a work in progress. We will continue to engage with our constituents, colleagues in the Senate, and stakeholders outside Washington in our effort to build a consensus that will lead to the passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation. The only way to succeed is through ongoing engagement and an honest effort to put all ideas on the table.

Better jobs, cleaner air. Our legislation will contain comprehensive pollution reduction targets that are both environmentally significant and achievable. It is our belief that a market-based system, rather than a labyrinth of command-and-control regulations, will allow us to reduce pollution economically and avoid the worst impacts of global climate change. It will also provide significant transition assistance to companies and consumers without using taxpayer dollars or driving up the national debt. We believe a near term pollution reduction target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 emissions levels is achievable and reasonable, as is a long term target of approximately 80 percent below 2005 levels. Finally, we believe a robust investment in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies will ensure that as pollution reduction targets become more rigorous, companies will be better equipped to meet their obligations in a cost effective manner.

Many business leaders have endorsed this approach. Just last week, David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, as well as other business leaders, persuasively argued that setting a price on carbon would create demand for clean energy technologies and provide a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and job creation in America. He said: “There will be no jobs created without demand. This legislation would stimulate the demand for energy efficiency products and services and low carbon sources of energy. China and India are stimulating their domestic demand for these products and technologies much more aggressively than we are and will take the global competitiveness lead unless we act. Cap and trade enables businesses to use the market to most effectively and efficiently develop that 21st century global competitiveness.” Mr. Cote’s words have been echoed by other American business leaders including Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, who has said, “the sooner we pass climate change legislation – the better off our economy, and the world’s environment – will be. If we go about it the right way, we can not only avoid unnecessary economic harm and dislocation, but we can also ignite a lower carbon, green revolution and more rapidly put this recession in our rear view mirror.”

Securing energy independence. We find ourselves more dependent on foreign oil today than any other time in our nation’s history, and that is unacceptable. Every day, we spend nearly $1 billion to sustain our addiction to foreign energy sources – and we ship Americans’ hard earned dollars overseas, some of which finds its way to extremist or terrorist organizations. Presidents and politicians have bemoaned this fact for decades; and now is the moment when we can – and must – break that habit. By spurring the development and deployment of new clean energy technologies and increasing our supply of domestically produced oil and natural gas on land and offshore, our legislation will ensure America’s energy security. We will do so in a way that sends money back to the states that opt to drill and also provides new federal government revenues to advance climate mitigation goals. We will also encourage investments in energy efficiency because we believe that consuming less power will help keep energy bills down and simultaneously extend the life of our domestic energy resources. Finally, maintaining the ability to refine petroleum products in the United States is a national security priority. It is our belief that we can preserve our refining capacity without sacrificing our environmental goals. If energy independence is to be a priority, we must keep the entire energy cycle right here at home.

Creating regulatory predictability. By failing to legislate, Congress is ceding the policy reins to the EPA and ignoring our responsibility to our constituents. We are working with our colleagues, the Administration and outside stakeholders to strike a sensible balance and determine the appropriate way to provide regulatory predictability. We agree that providing the business community as much certainty as possible is essential to attract investment, create jobs and generate the confidence necessary to reach our goals. The absence of national greenhouse gas emissions standards has invited a patchwork of inconsistent state and regional regulations. Since it is not reasonable to expect businesses to comply with fifty different standards, it is imperative that a federal pollution control system be meaningful and be set by federally elected officials.

Protecting consumers. It is critical to provide transitional assistance to households and businesses to ease the shift to a low-carbon economy. We will provide support to help companies meet their compliance obligations and avoid driving up prices for energy consumers. We will include special protections for low- and middle-income Americans, who spend a disproportionately large amount of their income on energy. We are considering a number of mechanisms, including a price collar and strategic reserve, to moderate the price of carbon and prevent extreme market volatility while maintaining the environmental integrity of the pollution reduction program. Additionally, we support energy efficiency programs to help reduce energy bills long into the future.

Encouraging nuclear power. Additional nuclear power is an essential component of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We strongly support incentives for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, but successful legislation must also recognize the important role for clean nuclear power in our low-emissions future. America has lost its nuclear technology manufacturing base, and we must rebuild it in order to compete in the global marketplace. Our legislation will encourage the construction of new nuclear power plants and provide funding to train the next generation of nuclear workers. We will make it easier to finance the construction of new nuclear power plants and improve the efficiency of the licensing process for traditional as well as small modular reactors, while fully respecting safety and environmental concerns. In addition, we support the research and development of new, safe ways to minimize nuclear waste. We are working with our colleagues to create incentives for low-carbon power sources, including nuclear, that will complement the Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s work to incentivize renewable electricity.

Ensuring a future for coal. Our country has plentiful, accessible coal resources and infrastructure. It is a key component of our current fuel mix.  As Senator Byrd pointed out in a recent op-ed, “No deliberate effort to do away with the coal industry could ever succeed in Washington because there is no available alternative energy supply that could immediately supplant the use of coal for base load power generation in America.” He also acknowledged that, “to deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say ‘deal me out'”¦ The truth is that some form of climate legislation will likely become public policy because most American voters want a healthier environment.” We agree with both statements. However, due to current regulatory uncertainty, it is increasingly challenging to site new coal facilities, and utilities are switching to other fuel sources. Earlier this month, an electric utility in North Carolina announced its plans to take 11 existing coal facilities out of operation.  Coal’s future as part of the energy mix is inseparable from the passage of comprehensive climate change and energy legislation. We will commit significant resources to the rapid development and deployment of clean coal technology, and dedicated support for early deployment of carbon capture and sequestration.

The Byrd op-ed they quoted from is here — Sen. Byrd stunner: “Coal Must Embrace The Future: The truth is that some form of climate legislation will likely become public policy because most American voters want a healthier environment.”

Reviving American manufacturing by creating jobs. Manufacturing is the backbone of our nation’s economy, and we refuse to believe that the days of American leadership are behind us. Despite some initial success stories, such as North Dakota’s 30 percent growth in clean energy jobs in the last decade, the United States is falling behind. Successful climate legislation will not send existing jobs overseas. Rather, pricing carbon will drive innovation – creating new opportunities for those who develop clean energy technologies, as well as those who build, install, and maintain them. We plan to provide significant assistance to manufacturers to avoid carbon leakage and ensure the continued competitiveness of American-made goods. Our legislation will also provide financial incentives to both large and small manufacturers to improve the efficiency of their processes, which will mean even more new jobs. In addition to employing thousands in the building trades, our envisioned development of nuclear and wind power will also mean jobs and growth for our steel industry. It is time to regain our leadership and create the jobs of the future here in America.

Creating wealth for domestic agriculture and forestry. While emissions from agriculture will not be regulated, climate legislation will provide farmers with new opportunities to benefit from reducing their carbon emissions. Offset projects and other incentives will enable farmers to develop new income streams, as environmentally-friendly farming practices dramatically increase in value once a price is placed on carbon. According to USDA Secretary Vilsack, “the economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers can potentially outpace, perhaps significantly, the costs from climate legislation.” In addition, a new USDA study released last week shows that this can be accomplished without an appreciable rise in food prices. While we are still discussing the details of the offset program with our colleagues, we have reached agreement that we will include significant amounts of real, monitored and verified domestic and international offsets and other incentives in our system in order to contain costs and create opportunities for farmers, ranchers and forest owners to benefit from climate change legislation.

Regulating the carbon market.  We will support vigilant carbon market oversight, real-time transparency, adequate settlement requirements to control risk in the market and strong quality controls to ensure maximum effectiveness and clarity. We will not stand for market abuse or manipulation, and we believe it is essential that any comprehensive emissions reduction strategy include provisions to ensure openness and accountability within the carbon market.

Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. Ultimately, climate change must be addressed through a strong international agreement that includes real, measurable, reportable, verifiable and enforceable actions by all nations. American leadership is essential, but action by the developing world is necessary to maximize the benefits of our effort. To this end, we acknowledge the role the United States can play to help provide long-term financing to assist developing countries adapt to climate change, generate energy cleanly and reduce emissions from deforestation. Additional private climate finance provided through international offsets has the added benefit of reducing costs for American consumers. As we work collectively with other countries to reduce global emissions, we agree with nine of our colleagues who wrote earlier this month: “enhanced technology cooperation will benefit the United States but must be coupled with strong protections for intellectual property rights.” Finally, we will include strong measures that are compatible with our obligations under the World Trade Organization to prevent our economic competitors from exploiting the American market if they shirk their responsibility to minimize carbon pollution.

Building consensus. We intend to continue to engage our Senate colleagues in the weeks ahead to develop sensible, effective climate change legislation that will create jobs, ensure our energy independence, restore America to a position of leadership in the clean energy economy and reduce pollution. We are inspired by the years of work that have already been done and we hope both to build on those efforts and to devise new, innovative ideas for resolving some of the issues that have long blocked the passage of a climate change bill in the Senate. Every perspective is valuable and we invite all of our colleagues, stakeholders and constituents to join us in this effort to find consensus. Together, we can and will pass climate change and energy independence legislation this Congress.

Kudos to Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman for coming together to make a bipartisan climate and clean energy bill possible next year — and thereby make a global climate deal coming out of Copenhagen possible.

For completeness, here’s a “Statement by the Press Secretary on the Comprehensive Energy Framework”:

Today, Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham took another significant step in the effort to pass comprehensive energy reform with the release of their legislative framework. The President believes this is a positive development towards reaching a strong, unified and bipartisan agreement in the U.S. Senate.

Over the last 11 months, the Obama Administration has made historic strides in building a clean energy economy, creating new American jobs and reducing US dependence on foreign oil. From robust domestic actions including historic investments in clean energy to sustained international engagement to encourage countries around the world to reduce their carbon emissions, the President has established a new energy foundation.  The passage of comprehensive energy legislation is essential to that effort.

In a demonstration of the growing consensus surrounding the need to reform our energy economy,  the President heard from CEOs yesterday who told him that passing clean energy legislation and supporting an international accord to reduce emissions will strengthen our economy and enhance our competitiveness.

The President looks forward to working with the Senate and signing comprehensive energy and climate legislation as soon as possible.

23 Responses to Graham, Kerry, Lieberman embrace market-based system to cut carbon pollution “in the range of 17%” by 2020 and 80%+ by 2050 — bipartisan backing for Obama’s Copenhagen pledge.

  1. SecularAnimist says:

    Sorry, but I don’t see the massive misdirection of resources into nuclear power, “ensuring a future for coal”, and off-shore drilling as merely the cost of getting an effective bill passed.

    I see them as fatally undermining the effectiveness of the bill.

    What it tells me is that just as the Senate “health reform” bill is about protecting the profits of the insurance corporations against the best interests of the American people, this bill is about protecting the profits of the fossil fuel and nuclear corporations against the best interests of the American people.

    It may be the best that is “politically possible”. Joe is certainly a far better judge of that than I am.

    But that doesn’t mean that I have to pretend that it is adequate to address the problem. It is a huge exercise in foot-dragging by entrenched, wealthy, powerful interests and it falls far, far short of what every reader of this blog KNOWS we could do with wind and solar energy — which we WON’T do if hundreds of billions of dollars are siphoned off into the nuclear and “clean coal” boondoggles.

    All I would ask, is that coverage of this bill on this site will avoid saying that the bill’s massive giveaways to the nuclear, coal and oil corporations are merely “a problem for some environmentalists”, as though they only matter to a handful of dirty hippie green extremists, and point out that they are a substantive, real and serious problem for the effectiveness of the legislation.

    [JR: All I would ask is that you actually read what I have written many, many times on this site. The drilling was inevitable, since the price of oil is going back to $150+. The Dems were going to cave eventually. Better to do it now. It’s not like this matters in terms of global emissions — there’s just too little out there. If folks vote for this because they think it insures a future for coal — well, that’s fine by me. Certainly if we didn’t try to do CCS, coal would be dead, but as I’ve blogged many times, I just don’t think it’s going to be affordable, practical, and scalable solution. Still, it is worth pursuing because, with biomass, it can lead to carbon-negative electricity, which will need. And nuclear has priced itself out of the marketplace, and I doubt anything the government does can change that, but, hey, if this led to affordable and scalable and practical nuclear, well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing either.

    In any case, there’s no possibility of a bill without those three things, so you can choose to live in an imaginary world filled with congressmen and women of both parties who are vastly more progressive than long-standing environmental champions like Waxman, Markey, and Kerry. But that doesn’t happen to be the world we live in. I suggest you revisit the House vote. It was quite sobering.

    The bill Graham, Lieberman, and Kerry are pursuing would be far away the greatest piece of environmental and clean energy legislation ever passed by any country. It would finish the transition to a low carbon, clean energy economy begun in the remarkable stimulus bill. If you can’t take 4/5 of a loaf, well, then, I rather wonder how you have been sticking around this website for so long.]

  2. joe1347 says:

    Yet more Clean coal – Figures! And even more drilling for nonexistent domestic oil. Don’t they know that it’s all gone?

    So are we doomed Joe – since it looks like there’s about zero chance that our political leadership is willing to make the necessary hard decisions that are in the public’s long term best interests?

    [JR: But you have the answer in your comment. The dirty stuff will fail with the smallest of pushes….]

  3. Jay Deacon says:

    It needs to be pointed out — and generally isn’t — that the reduction figures coming out of the United States, which are based on a comparison with 2005, are seriously out of sync with the rest of the world, which is basing their comparisons on 1995. So they don’t mean much. An already measly 17% cut based on 2005 is the equivalent of a titanic 4% cut from 1995 levels. We can delude ourselves if we want to, but we can’t delude the science. It won’t yield. Fairly meaningless reductions, plus coal. That’s what America is proposing to contribute to this spiralling emergency. Have they no shame?

  4. MarkB says:

    The nuclear or offshore drilling components don’t concern me much. Nuclear is a very low carbon solution, so while perhaps wasteful to push incentives for the expensive nuclear industry when we arguably have viable renewable alternatives, it doesn’t undermine the core carbon emissions reduction goal. Renewables have plenty of incentives as well.

    I agree with Romm’s response in #2 with offshore drilling. It’s expensive and not a terrible amount of carbon out there offshore that’s economically viable. It’s more of an appeasment for Graham and the Drill Here and Now crowd to get a few dollars into his state, but it’s not going to do anything to lower gas prices and little impact as far as carbon emissions go.

    Coal is the biggest concern.

    “We will commit significant resources to the rapid development and deployment of clean coal technology, and dedicated support for early deployment of carbon capture and sequestration.”

    Why is “clean coal” mentioned in a way that distinguishes it from “carbon capture and sequestration” or is this just poor wording? Clean coal has to include CCS for it to work, which is a decade a way from being really viable at the earliest. We’ve seen how the coal industry defines “clean coal” and it doesn’t include CCS. Let’s make sure there are no loopholes that negates the price on carbon.

  5. Steve H says:

    I say go ahead and put nuclear in; it is not really all that likely that we’ll actually get any. Likewise, the models assume we use all the oil we can get our mitts on. As opposed to oh, say HCR, these cap and trade bills are rather solid to begin with, and it is the assumption of many that once significant progress is made on reductions the goals will be set higher. By that time we will better be able to determine what is readily achievable. No worries, mates. This is good news and we should be more unified in our support of these bills. I really detest having to say that, but I think HCR has been such a shining example of how Congress can be quite inept when we allow them. By being more unified on cap-and-trade, we greatly increase the chances of having the bill pass. I can’t imagine that the senate will be up for another (work that Joe doesn’t allow) of a debate between multiple factions. Progressives will lose out again if we let the enlighted ones take too much time on this one.

  6. Matt says:

    I think clean coal other than sequestration includes gasification.

  7. evnow says:

    I’ve no problem with some compomise.

    But the problem is dems are adept at giving the whole farm away and getting a few pennies in return. So much was given away even in the stimulus package to get just a couple of votes. Same with the health “reform”.

    If we can get a tighter bill with no loopholes and lower cap – compromises make some sense.

  8. Raleigh Latham says:

    Well, we can always take away the coal plants when the implications of climate change become more realistic. Putting something on the table now is absolutely essential before the Teabaggers threaten to derail everything which the scientific community has fought so hard for.

  9. Cynthia says:

    Not exactly the “WW2-scale effort to get to zero emissions now”. But if they get a bill passed, I guess that’s one step forward. Frankly, I think we’re doomed.

    Awhile back, when there was that humungous drought down south, and 3 states were all fighting over a puddle of water, they had to shut down the nuclear power plant that was nearby because they couldn’t spare the water for the cooling process. Since experts are predicting a decrease of about 40% less water in the near future due to aquifiers being sucked dry, etc., nuclear may be a big waste of money…

  10. Tyler says:

    What would 17 per cent below 2005 levels be when measured against 1990 levels?

  11. Cynthia says:

    To Tyler: I think they said “about 4%”.

  12. Joel says:

    According to, the 17% target by 2020 is a modest 3.4%. The use of 2005 is what got my country (Canada) a Fossil of the Day award yesterday – along with our pitiful 3% target. How is this “the greatest piece of environmental and clean energy legislation ever passed by any country” considering the EU targets?

  13. BobSmith says:

    Although I don’t like the support for nuclear, coal, or gas. The main point is to avoid catastrophic global warming, and also bear in mind that this is a first step, and with the support of renewables, I think the market will help to create a dramatic shift away from nuclear, coal, and gas regardless.

    The funny thing is in 20 yrs. the gas companies will be mostly renewable fuel.

    As for coal, it will now be regulated, so hopefully a lot less backward actions against local climates. Though, everyone knows putting up some wind farms is a lot better idea than, blowing up mountains.

  14. It sucks that this is such great news only by comparison to anything we’ve done so far. And it sucks that this is supposed to be the best we can possibly hope for under the current circumstances, because it’s not nearly good enough to save the most vulnerable nations. Bummer for them.

    But Joe Romm is no doubt right. With the current state of the US Congress and the huge gap between the scientific evidence of what’s happening and the American public’s understanding or awareness of what’s happening, you’re not going to get a better bill than this right now.

    That doesn’t mean we should be proud of offering the world this meager effort in emission cuts or that we should pretend this bill has the sense of urgency the climate crisis calls for.

    But it doesn’t mean the next generation is going to ever buy the argument that we did the best we could with the politicians and sense of justice we had at the time. Tell that to Tuvalu or the people of the Kiribati islands or Bangladesh. Try explaining that to the satisfaction of the G-77 nations who know when they’re being asked to BOHICA by the first world nations. But it’s the best we can do and it is after all 4/5 of a loaf.

    Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown…

  15. Lou Grinzo says:


    Some good is certainly better than no good, but that’s not the issue. If we don’t reach a critical mass of reductions (or avoid hitting a critical mass of CO2 in the atmosphere), then all the political possibilities and victories won’t mean a thing.

    The environment is stunningly indifferent to our political concerns or realities, our needs, wants, and desires.

    If it turns out that this is all we’ll get over the next decade or so (and it’s far too early to leap to that conclusion)–minimal progress from the US, and China and India sticking to their ludicrous “intensity” based reductions (which will almost surely result in increases in their emissions)–then call in the dogs, [expletive] on the fire, the party’s over.

  16. BobSmith says:

    Lou Grinzo

    Clean energy technologies are very good technologies, and the sometimes greedy… err entrepenuerial nature of governments, businesses, and individuals will embrace what sells. Of course, I’m speaking in very general terms, but, in my humble opinion, I think the new green will be like the old green – it will have to supply our energy needs after all.

  17. It appears we have failed; all our e-mails, blogs, and columns have failed to convince congress of the seriousness of the climate situation! A 17% reduction from 2005 will not, repeat, not do the job. Waiting another year while the nations of the world haggle over new definitive CO2 reductions puts the planet at a terrible risk.Do you expect them after one year to be so scared that they will come up with miracle solutions to the money, energy, and CO2 problem that they cannot find now? All the climate calculations and probabilities of high temp in the future I have seen recently have scared me, but not enough of the world leaders evidently. Certainly our congressional leaders are not scared. Obama is helping but yet helpless.
    What I read is auto companies poring their goods into India and China (now having the biggest market) and actually selling more cars in China than cars in the U.S.! When the world recession is completely on the mend wait and see how fast the atmospheric concentration of C2 goes from 390 to 450. It is too late to stop that now.
    As for nuclear, if we and most other nations do not build nuclear plants, then coal and natural gas plants will have to be built. No doubt wind turbines, biomass plants, and solar thermal will thankfully supply some reasonable amount of base-load electricity, but not all. In the U.S we have inadequate electric distribution for solar and wind to be that helpful in the next 20 years.

  18. Tim says:

    So THERE all you lying denialist idiots. Go talk to Sen. Graham and those CEOs about the real world.

    We simply can’t afford to repeat the Kyoto episode with a deal that has no chance of gaining Senate ratification. Today’s K/L/G announcement is a huge game-changer that I hope might clear the way for us to get a deal done this coming year. I write this as one who was a campus anti-nuclear leader back in the late 70s, but recognize that we just HAVE to get over the hump on carbon. Frankly, I’m not too worried about the nuclear part of this K/L/G thing, anyway. It’s dinosaur industry and, if the right incentives are there for renewables and energy efficiency, then the sheer economics of nuclear power would pretty much stifle significant new projects.

  19. Cynthia says:

    Dr. Eisner, what scares me is that the summer sea ice is now so thin that you can’t even walk on it! It doesn’t seem like there would be any ice left at the end of summer next year??! The newspaper said, “As I watched, over the course of five minutes, the entire multiyear ice floe broke up into pieces. This floe was 10 miles across.” The paper also said, “the permanent ice, which is normally up to 30 feet thick, was easily pierced by the research ship.” They had believed the northern sea ice had been recovering because of satellite images but then realized the images were flawed.

  20. Ben Lieberman says:

    This is a remarkable and monumental step because it moves us closer to a real plan to price carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Without a political consensus in favor of pricing carbon the environment might in fact be doomed–with this principle accepted there is cause for hope, though further work will be needed.

  21. John McCormick says:

    Can we see a life preserver being thrown at us drowning Americans and do more than yell back to the Samaritan:

    “it’s yellow. I want an orange vest”.

    I have my problems with Senator Lieberman but this trio deserves a high five.

    And, the anti nuke folk who worry that the waste will be around for many thousands of years have never given a thought about timing of AGW or the more recent projections about how little time civilization has to act to survive global warming.

    John McCormick

  22. anotherhopefulmoderate says:

    I too think this is a step forward. Lets recall that many of the arguments that are making it hard to get to 60 votes, are ones that will be lessened once the plan is in place (the market mechanism won’t work, it will mean we are micro regulating peoples lifestyles, etc, etc) or ones that will be less important over time (right now US unemployment is high, it may be easier to go for more ambitious targets when we are in a macroeconomic upcycle).

    also, I suspect theres a demographic element. Arent young people more concerned about this, more green, than older folks on average? Time will make them more dominant, by the simple fact that the old die off.