Lieberman, McCain Introduce Climate Change Measure

Published March 1, 2003

Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and John McCain (R-Arizona) have introduced the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, a far-reaching measure that would establish nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions, launch a greenhouse gas permit trading system, and promote climate change research through scholarships and new reporting requirements on the Department of Commerce.

The measure, S. 139, was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on January 9.

The bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial sectors of the economy. A Lieberman news release summarizing the bill’s provisions notes those sectors were responsible for roughly 85 percent of year 2000 emissions in the U.S.

Among the bill’s provisions:

Targets. The bill would set a 2010 emissions target of 5,896 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (measured in terms of carbon dioxide equivalence), the year 2000 emissions level. By 2016, the affected sectors would be expected to reduce emissions to 1990 levels: 5,123 million metric tons.

Allowances. All entities affected by the measure would be required to submit to EPA one tradeable allowance for each metric ton of greenhouse gases emitted. The Secretary of Commerce would be required to determine, subject to allocation factors outlined in the bill, the amount of allowances to be given away or “grandfathered” and the amount to be auctioned. Proceeds from the auction would be used to reduce energy costs of consumers and assist disproportionately affected workers.

Entities would be permitted to satisfy up to 15 percent of their emission reduction requirements through sequestration efforts, or by submitting tradeable allowances from another country’s market in greenhouse gases or emission reductions registered by someone other than a covered entity. Credits earned by vehicle manufacturers who exceed Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards by more than 20 percent could also be bought and sold.

Trading. EPA and the Department of Commerce would be required to work out the details of the trading system. The greenhouse gas registry system included in the energy bill passed last year by the Senate would be utilized to establish the system. Companies would report verifiable emission reductions to the registry and trade those reductions on the open market. Entities not affected by the mandatory limits in the bill would be permitted to participate in the trading system after voluntarily reporting their emissions.

Penalty. The measure would penalize companies not meeting their emission limits with a fine for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions over the limit. That fine would be three times the market value of a ton of emissions, based upon the price of emission credits from the trading system provided for in the bill.

Research. The bill would establish a scholarship program at the National Science Foundation for students studying climate change; an “abrupt climate change” research program at the Department of Commerce; and a program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology for developing standards and measurement technologies. The bill also would require new reports from the Department of Commerce on technology transfer and “the impact of the Kyoto Protocol on the U.S. industrial competitiveness and international scientific cooperation.”

Diane Carol Bast is editor of Environment & Climate News.

For more information …

The full text of the 58-page Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 is available through PolicyBot. Point your Web browser to, click on the PolicyBot icon, and search for document #11541.