New Climate Bill Draft a Good Start, but Needs Work

Iceberg melting, Alaska. Photo by William C. Gladish.

By J.P Leous

A federal limit on global warming pollution received a timely endorsement from two key House chairmen in October.

U.S. Reps. John D. Dingell, (D-Mich.) and Rick Boucher, (D-Va.), have vowed to tackle global warming. Their proposed cap-and-trade legislation, released Oct. 7, sets the stage for future discussion on preventing dangerous emissions.

Thank you, Congressmen. We needed that.

The Wilderness Society welcomes the progress but we remain wary of its modest near-term goals.

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell released the draft bill of the legislation Oct. 7. But for all the good the bill would do putting global warming on the front burner, it still leaves much to be desired.

Make no mistake. The legislation is a big step forward. It acknowledges the need for cap-and-trade laws and would require an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 2050.

So what’s the problem? Only minor reductions would be required over the next 10 years.

In fact, the draft bill includes only a six percent reduction from 2005 levels by the year 2020. That’s far short of the 20 to25 percent reduction most scientists suggest we need in order to head off dangerous global warming later in the century.

Moreover, when it comes to protecting natural resources from global warming, it proposes options but no requirements. Failing to protect our natural heritage is no longer an option.

"The draft legislation is the beginning, but only the beginning, of passing an effective climate bill," says David Moulton, Director of Climate Policy for The Wilderness Society.