The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) have both published analyses of Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM) proposed “Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007” (S. 1766)
Using a cap-and-trade system, the Act aims to cut global warming emissions to 2006 levels by 2020, 1990 levels by 2030, and then 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Both reports found that the Act would cut emissions 24-26 percent from the “business-as-usual” approach by 2030, while the impact on economic growth and prices would be “modest.” The studies also found that the legislation would spur new clean technology and carbon capture development in coal plants.
Among the details of the reports:
- Emissions will be cut most drastically in the electricity sector using nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for new coal plants, along with efficiency measures and renewables. If CCS and/or nuclear power are not employed, the size of emissions cuts would greatly decrease.
- The residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors would only see modest cuts in emissions
- Cumulative GDP losses by 2030 range between 0.02-0.07 percent
- Renewable energy like wind, solar, and biomass will play a significant role in cutting emissions (but coal with carbon capture and storage will be responsible for avoiding a much larger amount of CO2)
- The Midwest and the South (both heavily reliant on coal) would see the biggest decrease in emissions
Senator Bingaman commented in a news release:
The EIA and EPA reports both show that a well-designed climate program can reduce emissions at a low-cost to our economy. Both studies conclude that our climate change legislation would dramatically transform technologies to spur carbon capture and sequestration, greatly lowering emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Interestingly, while the emissions targets in the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 (S. 280) imply larger cuts than the Specter-Bingaman Act, the EPA found that the McCain-Lieberman proposal relies heavily on international carbon offsets and therefore both bills result in similar levels of domestic global warming emissions cuts.