US should limit emissions before China - senator

05 November 2007 22:09  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The US cannot wait for developing countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and instead should provide global leadership by making unilateral emissions reductions, the top US Senate energy expert said on Monday.


Senator Jeff Bingaman (Democrat-New Mexico), chairman of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said US policymakers in Congress should not wait for other countries to act on global warming issues but should take the lead.


Speaking at a press conference about energy and climate control legislation now pending on Capitol Hill, Bingaman voiced strong support for S-2191, a bill that would impose a cap and trade emissions reduction requirement on US electric utilities, chemical and other manufacturers and refineries.


Senator James Inhofe (Republican-Oklahoma), ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has sharply criticised S-2191, arguing that it will harm US industry and retard US economic growth but without reducing overall atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. 


Saying that S-2191 is “all pain but no gain,” Inhofe charged that if the US makes major economic sacrifices to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while China, India and other developing economies make no similar effort, the costly US effort will be pointless because developing nations’ emissions are already exceeding those of the US.


US chemical industry officials also have warned that a cap and trade mandate would trigger a major shift in US electric power generation fuel selection from coal to natural gas, causing an industry-killing increase in gas prices. US chemicals production is heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock.


Bingaman said the US nevertheless must act to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.


“I think that for us to do nothing, on the theory that others also are doing nothing, is not a responsible course,” Bingaman said.  “I think we need to provide leadership in this, and at the same time we have to be pressing the developing countries to step up and follow our lead.”


“I think, clearly, that in order for us to effectively deal with greenhouse gas emissions there has to be a worldwide effort to do that,” Bingaman said. “And countries like China and India and other developing countries are going to have to embrace serious limits on greenhouse gases, just as I hope we are able to embrace serious limits on greenhouse gases.”


Bingaman indicated that Congress is not likely to complete work on the climate control and emissions bill in the few weeks that remain to this year’s legislative calendar.

By: Joe Kamalick
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