The most promising and well-known of the proposed bills is America's Climate and Security Act of 2008 (S. 2191), also known as the Lieberman-Warner Bill. In June 2008 opponents of the bill filibustered2 the legislation; proponents of the bill were unable to break the filibuster. Despite the fact that the bill did not come up for a vote, it remains an important model for future climate change legislation.
The Act, as amended by Senator Boxer, proposes an economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride - cap-and-trade program beginning in 2012 for electric utilities, petroleum refiners, natural gas processors, importers of gas, coal, or petroleum-based fuels, and manufacturers. A separate cap on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions is also proposed for those facilities that manufacture or import HFC in the United States. The named industries account for the release of nearly 86% of total US greenhouse gas emissions. Preliminary estimates of total (non-HFC + HFC) GHG emissions reductions under the proposed program are targeted at 17 -19 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, and 57 - 63 percent below 2005 levels in 20503.
Under the proposed act, companies would be required to surrender allowances or offsets equivalent to their greenhouse gas emissions to the EPA. A percentage of allowances would be given to companies early in the program to ease their financial burden, with the balance of allowances needed for annual compliance to be purchased through an auction. The practice of giving allowances for free to companies would be phased out by 2031, after which companies would be required to purchase all of their allowances through auctions. EPA would also give allowances directly to states that are leaders in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency. Additional allowances would be given to states with high home heating oil usage, and those that rank high in coal use or manufacturing industries, to ease their financial burden. Revenue from the sale of allowances would be used for public benefits such as:
- Easing financial impacts on low-income consumers;
- Promoting energy efficiency;
- Investing in non-emitting electricity generating technologies;
- Improving public transportation; and
- Creating workforce training programs.
2A filibuster is a procedural tactic in the Senate whereby Senators talk continuously so that the Senate is unable to vote on the bill. It is possible to end a filibuster by invoking cloture, which ends debate immediately, but this requires a supermajority of 60 votes.
3Emissions reductions estimates quoted from World Resources Institute 4CO2 offset allowances are created when verifiable emissions reductions are achieved outside of the regulated industry sectors.