Thursday, October 1, 2009

Subplots Will Signal Whether New Senate Energy Bill Gets Passed

On Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced a bill that would establish for the first time a comprehensive national low-carbon energy program.

Tim Profeta, director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, has seen similar legislation introduced on Capitol Hill over the past 10 years, and calls the latest bill “a cautious first move in what must be a bipartisan leap to modernize the U.S. energy economy. The bill leaves question marks, appropriately, on some of the toughest issues.”

Profeta, who served as Counsel for the Environment to Sen. Joseph Lieberman before becoming founding director of the Nicholas Institute in 2005, said there will be telltale signs on whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach agreement on this issue.

“Make sure to watch three key subplots in this story develop,” he says. “First, will senators struggle to choose the right policy tool to prevent the costs of energy transition from harming consumers, business or the economy as a whole.

“Second, as the global economy continues to grow as an organic whole, how will lawmakers strengthen U.S. competitiveness in international trade.

“Third, in the wake of last year's Wall Street financial meltdown, will the new market for carbon credits be designed smartly, drawing on all of our knowledge and experience of how efficient markets work.”

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