Jeff Bingaman
Circulating a Discussion Draft on Global Warming Legislation
January 22, 2007
   The PRESIDING OFFICER. The distinguished Senator from New Mexico.
   Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I be allowed to speak as in morning business for 10 minutes.
   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
   Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, the issue of global warming is more and more on the minds of Americans. There is good reason why it is. I think we are familiar now with the litany of adverse consequences that is associated with unlimited release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  The scientific reports are warning us about rising sea levels, about dangerous heat waves, about increasingly devastating hurricanes and other weather events. There are always uncertainties about understanding the Earth's climate, but one thing is clear: Uncontrolled release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with no real strategy to reduce those gases is irresponsible and dangerous at this point in our history. It is a great challenge that we face to reduce these emissions in this country and countries around the world. Even individual States within the United States, and regions of this country, are leading the way in dealing with this issue.
   The truth is, unless the United States as a whole and the developing countries that have rapidly growing economies find a way to reduce emissions, we are likely to see this entire planet covered with a blanket of gases that will take centuries to dissipate.
   In 2005 the Senate passed a resolution setting forth an approach to tackling the challenges of climate change. That resolution called for adoption of a mandatory, economy-wide program that will slow, stop, and then reverse greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy and that will encourage action by developing nations. Meeting those various tests set out in that resolution will require a bipartisan commitment to understand the impact of any legislative approach.
   Today I am joining with my colleague, Senator Specter from Pennsylvania, in circulating a bipartisan discussion draft on global warming legislation. The choice to release this discussion draft reflects our desire to modify or improve that legislation in the coming months before it is introduced. This is our commitment to create a bipartisan process that will focus discussion in a constructive direction.
   I see three main challenges that we face in this process. First, we need to persuade our colleagues on the program that we have chosen; that is, a cap and trade proposal that incorporates market-based mechanisms and funding for technology development. In 2005, 53 Members of the Senate went on record in support of such a proposal by defending that sense-of-the-Senate resolution and voting for it. We need to continue to expand that number. We need to engage the Administration, which has refused to support such measures for reducing greenhouse gases.
   To begin to meet this first challenge, I would like to call the attention of my colleagues to two documents. The first is an analysis by the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, or EIA. This was in September of last year. I joined with five other Senators in submitting a request, a discussion draft to the Energy Information Administration asking them to analyze it. Earlier this month, they returned with very favorable results, showing that it is possible to implement a cap-and-trade proposal that begins to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy. The Energy Information Administration of this Administration showed that the program has only minor impacts on gross domestic product--a quarter of 1 percent by 2030. That is equal to slowing the rate of economic growth by roughly 1 month over the next 20-plus years.
   I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD the executive summary of this EIA analysis following the completion of my remarks.
   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
   (See Exhibit 1.)
  Mr. BINGAMAN. The second document to which I wish to call attention is a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In October of 2005, Senator Jeffords and I asked CBO to address a debate that has been occurring in the Senate. Most experts agree that significant cuts in fossil fuel use is required if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But there has been a debate about whether the appropriate strategy was to exclusively fund technology development through tax incentives and through Federal programs or, on the contrary, to put a price on carbon by implementing a cap-and-trade proposal. CBO's analysis demonstrated that the most effective policy was a combination of these two.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD the summary of that CBO report following the completion of my remarks as well.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
   (See Exhibit 2.)
   Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, the second challenge we face in this debate is to figure out the appropriate way to structure a cap-and-trade program. Putting targets and timetables aside for a moment and determining the appropriate structure of a cap-and-trade system in order that it functions properly will require an enormous amount of focus and attention. For over a year, I have worked in a bipartisan manner with my colleague from New Mexico, Senator Domenici, to explore many of these issues. In February of last year we released a white paper from the Energy Committee entitled, ``Design Elements of a Mandatory Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System.'' That white paper laid out four basic questions about the design of the cap-and-trade proposal. I was very encouraged that we received detailed and constructive comments from over 150 major companies, NGOs, and individuals.
   On April 4, 2006, we hosted a day-long workshop with 29 of these respondents talking about their reaction to the white paper. This was the first such discussion in Congress to have taken place. My colleagues can find a transcript of this conference on the U.S. Government Printing Office Web site. I also ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD a joint statement from my colleague, Senator Domenici, and myself that summarized the conference.
   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
   (See Exhibit 3.)
   Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, the third challenge we face in making progress on this issue is getting political consensus on the right levels of control. Here I am talking about the level of stringency and the aggressiveness of the program. There have already been a number of bills introduced this year. I commend all my colleagues who dedicated their time and effort to addressing this issue. First and foremost, of course, Senators Lieberman and McCain have reintroduced their legislation. These two Senators have been leaders on the issue from the beginning. Also, Senators Sanders and Boxer have reintroduced legislation that Senator Jeffords drafted last year, and I commend them for their leadership and their bold vision. As chairs of the two committees engaged in the debate on global warming issues, I plan to work very closely with Senator Boxer to ensure that everything we do will keep momentum on global warming legislation moving forward.
   I also commend Senators Feinstein and Carper for working together to introduce legislation last week. Senator Feinstein was on our Energy Committee. She is not on that committee in this Congress, and she will be missed. But her leadership in this area is very important.
   I also would like to acknowledge and congratulate the efforts of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. This is a unique and diverse group of industry and NGOs that have come together to offer principles on global warming legislation and recommendations for that legislation.
   With all these bills and strategies for reducing greenhouse gases on the table, it is vital that we work together to craft sensible policy that can be enacted sooner rather than later. The science tells us that action is needed immediately and that the longer we delay the more difficult the problem will be. I believe the modest impacts that are identified from our proposal, the one Senator Specter and I are circulating, as shown by the Energy Information Administration analysis, will provide a basis to explore somewhat more aggressive reduction targets. It is for this reason that we do not want to introduce our bill without first giving great deliberation to different targets and approaches that could gain political consensus in passing legislation.
   One thing is clear: We cannot delay. For this reason, I hope to promote a legislative approach that will reflect a constructive center in this often polarized debate.
   In circulating this discussion draft, Senator Specter and I are setting forth a process. The first step of the process is to invite Senate offices to a series of workshops with experts on the issue to educate and understand the impacts of the legislation. These sessions will be open to Senate staff. We also, of course, want to invite participation or observation by representatives from the Administration. The first of the workshops will be February 2 in the afternoon.
   We also need to hear from the public and interested stakeholders. In the coming weeks, Senator Specter and I will be outlining a process to meet with stakeholders from industry, labor, environmental groups, and others. We plan to solicit their comments on the legislative text. A copy of the discussion draft and supporting documents will be posted on the Energy Committee Web site--energy.senate.gov. I encourage interested parties to look at that draft and to monitor the Web site for further developments.
   Madam President, following all of the other items that I have mentioned to be printed in the RECORD, I ask unanimous consent that the discussion draft that Senator Specter and I are circulating also be printed in the RECORD following the other documents.
   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
   Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, I yield the floor.