- Democrats in the U.S. Senate will unveil an aggressive measure aimed at combating greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. contributing to global climate change, the New York Times reports.
- The bill would mandate that the United States reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2% annually, a more ambitious target than the one set by the Obama administration.
- The release of the bill intentionally coincides with a push this week on climate change issues at the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis's visit to the United States, and a planned state visit later this week by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Times reports that the Democrats' new climate bill has "no chance" of passage, but that isn't the point for the party's congressional leadership.
The bill, to be introduced today by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, is meant to send a message to the rest of the world that many in the U.S. are committed to governmental action on climate change, despite the rhetoric from Republicans.
It's also meant to show world leaders that Senate Democrats will stand firm against GOP attempts to roll back the nation's first federal carbon regulations promulgated under the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the majority leader, has pledged to fight the regulations in Congress and urged states to "just say no" to submitting state implementation plans under the rule.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), expected to be the next Democratic leader, told the Times that the bill aims "to make it clear that McConnell’s view is not the view of large numbers of the Congress."
“Our message is that you can have clean energy and create jobs in a responsible way, and it’s going to unite our caucus," he said. "It’s not going to be unanimous, but it’s going to be close.”
The bill itself would mandate a 2% annual reduction in American greenhouse gas emissions, a more ambitious goal than the one set by Obama, which aims to cut U.S. carbon emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. That may come as welcome news to environmentalists, many who critiqued the Clean Power Plan for not pushing power companies to reduce emissions faster.
But despite its more aggressive targets, Cantwell's bill still lacks a provision for a formal price on carbon — a favored policy of many environmental economists that has been a political taboo since Midwestern Democrats killed a landmark cap and trade bill in 2009.
Two Democrats from fossil fuel states — Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) — indicated they will not support the bill.