Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Senators McCain and Lieberman to Reintroduce Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act

From Reuters:

Six U.S. senators, including potential 2008 presidential contenders from both major parties, unveiled legislation on Friday that would force power plants and industry to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gases, seeking to cut emissions to one-third of 2000 levels by 2050.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and possible 2008 presidential contender, introduced a new version of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, which he has pursued since 2003 with Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

Their "cap-and-trade" plan would place a ceiling on emissions of six kinds of greenhouse gases. It would allow emitters from four sectors -- electric utilities, transportation, general industry and commercial -- to either reduce emissions outright or buy tradable permits to comply with the rules.
Among the bill's four co-sponsors: Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. For a look at a previous version of the legislation from 2005, click here. Also see the African-American Environmentalists Association.

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6 comments:

gunter said...

Good afternoon,

Considering the last time language was introduced into this climate change bill calling for a taxpayer "shellout falter" to ease those painful construction costs, it proved key to the bill losing votes on the floor.

What's changed beside the Congressional leadership?

For one thing, there is the recognition to quantify the risk that nuclear power poses to national security as potential targets of our adversaries. Who needs more bullseyes when the security bar is already artificially low around existing reactors to accomodate industry cost savings?

Today, the US Supreme Court (01/16/2007)threw out the nuclear industry(NEI)challenge to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to support the National Environmental Policy Act by requiring the NRC licensing process to include environmental impact statements and public hearings on the consequences of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant.

Gunter, NIRS

Anonymous said...

Leave it to NEI to be beating the war drum for John (I support the killing of our troops in a new Surge) McCain,not because you endorse his politics, but because you endorse his endorsement of your industry, and forcing Americans to pay for you industry's research and development costs. As for nuclear being safe...your industry and the NRC have tried to make it safe by continously LOWERING THE BAR, and eliminate the host communities right of self rule in the relicensing process.

http://greennuclearbutterfly.blogspot.com/

Karen Street said...

The two comments raise an important point -- I would hope that people worried about the dangers of nuclear power ask their legislator to ask National Academy of Sciences to look at safety issues.

Bruce Alberts when he left NAS, said this in an interview in the May 20, 2005 Science (subscription needed), "We'd like to do a major study on nuclear power--the safety issues and where we as a country should go. But none of us have been successful, over four administrations [two for Clinton, two for Bush], in getting anybody to ask us to do that. And I don't know why they're not interested. ... It's obvious that the Department of Energy has to ask us to do it. Otherwise, it doesn't make any sense because they won't listen to what we've come up with."

Ruth Sponsler said...

I believe that comprehensive studies of nuclear reactor safety were done after Three Mile Island that resulted in many safety upgrades and extensive retrofitting at nuclear power plants. The safety perfomance of the U.S. nuclear industry has been excellent for many years.

The National Academy of Sciences has a number of publications relating to nuclear power safety. [try various searches to bring up documents].

This whole discussion is sort of a "red herring" in light of today's conclusions by the BP U.S. Refineries Independent Safety Review Panel which has released a report [large .pdf file] that gives a hard-hitting indictment of the lack of safety culture at some U.S. oil refineries, even a couple of years after a tragic event in which 15 workers were killed.

If it needs to do anything, NAS should do a full-fledged statistical comparison of safety across the whole spectrum of energy modalities to include the various means of generating electricity as well as transportation, home heating and the associated fuels.

Jim Hopf said...

Concerning “lowering the bar”, nuclear safety “bar” has always been the highest of any industry by far. The record speaks for itself; no measurable effect on public health and no member of the public killed, ever, in nuclear’s entire 40-yuear history. In almost all cases, the local population around reactors support their continued operation very strongly.

As for the few counter-examples, no, the govt. is not going to throw out multi-billion dollar assets just because a few people changed their minds about a plant that has always been there (for decades). It’s called rule of law (vs. mob rule). Knowing that ones assets will not be taken someday on a whim is one of the things that make the economies of developed nations so strong. If decisions like closing a nuclear plant for no reason were common, the US economy would resemble that of a banana republic in short order.

As far as studies evaluating the environmental and public health risks/costs of nuclear power versus other energy sources, this has already been done to death. There are numerous studies. All studies conclude the same thing. The risks and environmental impacts associated with nuclear power are a tiny compared to those of fossil fuels. The results of the most recent and exhaustive study, performed by the European Commission, are summarized at the link below (hit the results tab on the left and scroll down to the table).

http://www.externe.info/

Fossil fuel plants cause ~25,000 premature deaths every single year in the US alone. This annual death toll is several times the that which could occur even in a worst-case Western plant meltdown (which of course has never occurred, over 40 years). Fossil plants are also the leading single cause of global warming. In stark contrast, nuclear has never had any measurable health effect and does not contribute to global warming. Given these facts, you’d think that it would be obvious which source is environmentally superior. I’m not sure what Mr. Alberts is after (except endless research grant money, perhaps). The answer his question has already been thoroughly established (not to mention being totally obvious). The record clearly shows that nuclear is the one major energy source that IS clean and safe.

Karen Street said...

I agree that the safety issues have been done to death. But so many Senators and Congressmen, so many others, continue to say otherwise. It would be useful to issue an overall authoritative report saying that countless studies all come to the same conclusion.

The problems with nuclear waste are not major, but the problems with fossil fuel waste are. NAS has issued an excellent study on nuclear waste: National Academies Press, written by the National Research Council Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: The Continuing Societal and Technical Challenges (2001).

I've always thought that there has been no request for the report because many legislators (and environmentalists) don't want to see the answers. It would eliminate their talking points.