On Monday July 26th the Democrat’s climate change legislation was pulled from the senate in an attempt to spare the embarrassment of a fourth cap and trade bill failing to pass. With the entire Republican Party in opposition of the legislation and wavering support from fellow democrats the bill lacked ample support to enact significant government mandated environmental policies.
The main point of contention in the legislation was one of President Obama’s major campaigning points, the introduction of a cap and trade policy on carbon emissions in the United States. The cap and trade policy is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. By setting a cap on the amount of emissions a firm can emit they are forced to either reduce their carbon emissions or be forced to pay for the market cost of their emissions. On the flip side those companies who are able to reduce their emissions receive monetary incentives through the market by selling their carbon offset.
But even with this setback the Democrats still plan to push a more limited climate change bill through that includes the reform of offshore drilling, additional alternative energy incentives, and remedies for the conservation of energy and water.
The offshore oil reform, heavily influenced by the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf, will focus on the accountability and liability cap for companies. The liability cap for companies is suggested to be raised from its current $75 million to $10 billion, to ensure that companies are more accountable for their offshore drilling sites. Additionally with the suggested raised cap it ensures that companies will be fully liable to cover damages in the event of an environmental disaster.
As for alternative energy incentives in the new proposed legislation the major push is on the auto and housing industries. The legislation outlines incentives for the auto industry to begin converting trucks to run on natural gas and for cars to run on electricity. For the housing industry the bill includes the energy efficient measure “Home Star” endorsement, incentivizing small fixes around the house such as plugging window leaks, and proper insulation of the home.
On the whole, while the main focus of the climate change bill was its downfall, the revised bill is looking to be pushed through within the next few weeks. With this we can expect to see the gradual steps towards a more environmental conscience America fuelled by alternative energies.