Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has declared that cap-and-trade is dead. Graham and Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., are engaged in a radical behind-the-scenes overhaul of climate legislation. The trio plan to introduce new legislation next month that would apply different carbon controls to individual sectors of the economy instead of setting a national target.
It is being said, the lawmakers are looking at cutting the nation's greenhouse gas output by targeting, in separate ways, three major sources of emissions: electric utilities, transportation and industry. Power plants would face an overall cap on emissions that would become more stringent over time; motor fuel may be subject to a carbon tax whose proceeds could help electrify the U.S. transportation sector; and industrial facilities would be exempted from a cap on emissions for several years before it is phased in.
The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and would provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities.
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is looking for an independent outside panel to review how it makes major reports such as its report on climate change. Critics have found a few unsettling errors in the report, including incorrect projections of retreats in Himalayan glaciers. The group of volunteer scientists said it tries to be accurate and follow procedures, but according to IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri they recognize the criticism that has been leveled and the need to respond.
Pachauri says the panel has consulted with the United Nations and plans to find distinguished experts to review how it writes its reports. One of the troubles is that IPCC reports are written by most of the world's top experts in climate science. And the experts who don't write them, often review them, so it's hard to find someone both independent and knowledgeable. IPCC is most likely to find an outside organization to run the review.