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Five Recent Senate Bills Set Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Caps: Side-by-Side Comparison and Analysis

The current Congress has its hands full with many high priority issues, but for the first time climate change is one of them. Four bills setting mandatory caps on economy-wide greenhouse gas emission are under active discussion in the U.S. Senate, along with narrower bill that restrict emissions from the electricity and automobile sectors.

While the bills have much in common, they vary with respect to the stringency of the caps and the chosen regulatory approaches. Differences in stringency and the regulatory approach can be expected to have significant effects on the cost of the programs and the distribution of those costs across households and businesses.

Senior Fellows Ray Kopp and Billy Pizer of RFF's Climate and Technology Policy Program have prepared a side-by-side comparative analysis of the five most recent Senate bills: Sanders-Boxer, Kerry-Snowe, McCain-Lieberman, Feinstein-Carper, and Bingaman-Specter.

Link to table
Summary of Climate Change Bills Introduced
in the
110th Congress
As of February 16, 2007

The analysis is contained in a table that compares 10 attributes.

  1. Sectoral Coverage
  2. Emissions Targets
  3. Regulated Entities
  4. Allowance Allocation
  5. Banking, Borrowing, and Safety Valves
  6. Domestic Offsets and Credits
  7. International Offsets and Credits
  8. Provisions for Advanced Technology and Related Programs
  9. Other Provisions & Specific Regulatory Programs
  10. Actions of Other Nations

The side-by-side table is accompanied by a narrative discussion of the important differences in bills. The narrative addresses six questions.

  1. What is the scope of the regulatory program -- that is, how many sources of GHG emissions are regulated by the program?
  2. Who gets regulated?
  3. What are the emissions reduction targets?
  4. What do we know about the expected cost to reach the target?
  5. Do the bills try to limit uncertainty about costs?
  6. If a permit cap-and-trade program is used, how are the permits allocated?

Link to narrative discussion
Five Recent Senate Bills Propose Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Caps: Side-by-Side Comparison and Analysis




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