U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, hailed the passage of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, S. 2191, Wednesday, by a vote of 11-8. The bill requires a 70% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. If the bill ultimately becomes law
, it would be the strongest climate change law in the world. The day-long mark-up of the legislation considered more than two dozen amendments without substantially altering the bill.
The legislation, authored by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), is based on the successful cap-and-trade system used by the acid rain control program. The bill establishes a system to leverage the power of the free market to lower dangerous greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible costs.
“I am proud that the Senate is moving forward in such a positive direction toward environmental security and energy independence. Climate change is a real problem in this world that craves American leadership,” said Senator Cardin, who is a co-sponsor of the bill. “This legislation exercises the international leadership necessary to level the environmental playing field around the globe.”
A Cardin-authored provision, adopted at the beginning of the day’s session, allocates 1% of the carbon allowance auction proceeds for exclusive use in meeting the country’s mass transit needs. In 2005, public transportation use in the U.S. directly prevented the emission of 6.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 400,000 metric tons of other types of greenhouse gas emissions. These emission savings are from transit riders no longer driving and reduced congestion in urban areas as a result of transit.
The value of the credits will be set through a market-driven cap-and-trade system. Early estimates are that the Cardin Transit Provision will put $46.5 billion into mass transit programs across the country between 2012 and 2050.
The legislation also contains two provisions that will aid the Chesapeake Bay. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers would be provided millions of dollars to restore and protect important national treasures, including the Chesapeake Bay.