Blogalaxia Tags: Energia,Sostenibilidad y Tecnologia
by Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Tina Seeley
Legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming probably won't pass Congress before President George W. Bush leaves office, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman said.
``The administration has not engaged with the Congress in a meaningful way in trying to come to agreement on what should be done,'' Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in an interview. ``So you've got one hand clapping here with regard to climate change'' as lawmakers work on legislation, he said.
At least five bills have been introduced in Congress that would place mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other emissions linked to global warming. Bingaman is drafting a measure with Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter that would cap emissions and create a system to trade emission allowances.
While Bush's energy secretary, Samuel Bodman, said earlier this year that human activity is contributing to global warming, he said the administration still opposes mandatory emissions caps. Greenhouse gases can be cut with voluntary measures on the part of utilities and greater use of biofuels, according to Bush.
Since taking control of Congress this year, Democrats have drafted bills that would boost energy efficiency standards for home appliances, raise automobile fuel economy and require that utilities use some renewable fuel to generate electricity.
``There's been a failure of leadership in Washington on these issues the last six years,'' Bingaman said. ``Most of the world has moved ahead more aggressively in these areas. Most of the American public is substantially ahead of where the Congress and the administration are.''
U.S. companies including General Electric Co., Dupont Co., and ConocoPhillips this year endorsed mandatory federal limits on greenhouse gases and an allowance trading system to make implementation more efficient.
``To say that the administration is not engaged is false,'' said Kristen Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. ``We've got dozens of programs -- mandatory programs, tax incentives, international relationships -- all aimed at developing the best technologies to reduce emissions.''
Bingaman held open the possibility that Bush might sign a bill that creates mandatory emissions limits if it reached his desk with support from Congressional Republicans.
``Depending on what it looked like, there might be a lot of pressure on the President to go ahead and agree to it,'' Bingaman said, ``The President, at the end of eight years in office, would not want his final official act to be vetoing climate change legislation that his own party had somewhat embraced.''
Labor unions have also warmed to the concept of mandatory carbon caps. Reversing course, the 70,000-member International Brotherhood of Boilermakers this week endorsed Bingaman's approach to climate change legislation in a letter to the senator last week.
Bingaman's proposal, ``takes an important first step toward ecological sustainability without imposing unreasonable economic costs that would result in significant job loss,'' Bridget Martin, director of government affairs for the Kansas City-based labor group, said in the letter.
The boilermakers' union said any climate change legislation should penalize China, India and other developing economies if they fail to cap greenhouse gas emissions. By 2010, demand for cars and appliances will help China overtake the U.S. and Europe as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, according to a McKinsey & Co. study.
``Labor is a key constituency for many members of Congress, and has been traditionally concerned about issue of economic competitiveness and fairness to working families,'' said Paul Bledsoe, a spokesman for the National Commission on Energy Policy, which has drafted policy recommendations on climate change legislation.