On Thursday, July 19, the full committee will receive testimony on S. 1634, The Northern Mariana Islands Covenant Implementation Act. Witnesses include David Cohen, deputy assistant secretary for Insular Affairs at the Department of the Interior; Gov. Ben Fitial, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands; Pedro Tenorio, resident representative of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and Juan Guerrero, president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce. (Dirksen 366 at 9:30 a.m.)
Weekly Bonus …
Bingaman Energy Bill Plugged In to Reality
What does it take to ratchet back an energy-hungry nation’s contributions to global warming? In the Senate, at least 60 votes.
Among proposals now on the table, the one with the best chance of clearing that speed hump is sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
Other approaches take a more aggressive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. But Bingaman’s bill plots the most realistic course to enactment and toward sustaining the effort over the long haul.
Bingaman starts with a proven mechanism, a system of trading emission credits. Companies that can use new technology to cut emissions earn credits they can sell. Buying offsets might make more sense for other companies than investing in retrofitting old plants in the last years of useful life.
Emissions-credits legislation was used to reduce the pollution responsible for acid rain in the United States and more recently has been employed in Europe to address greenhouse gases.
A market that provides flexibility and the predictability necessary for long-range planning is important to bring industry along. A proposal’s level of detail is crucial to public acceptance, according to surveys. Bingaman’s bill is the most fully realized bill, according to Resources for the Future economist Ray Kopp.
“Jeff Bingaman’s going out there and spelling out how he’s going to do it,” Kopp said.
A preliminary analysis by the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group, projects the legislation would account for a 7 percent increase in the cost of electricity and for gasoline, 10 cents a gallon more. The increase would also be reflected in higher costs for the entire range of goods and services.
That’s not really a new cost, but a hidden cost. The unseen burden can continue to be deferred until it’s too heavy to shoulder, or it can be made explicit.
The Bingaman-Specter proposal would put a much more realistic price tag on our dependence on fossil fuels and give industry and consumers dollar-andcents reasons to change their habits.
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