McCain Vows New Vote on Climate Change Bill

Published July 1, 2004

At a May 6 hearing, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) vowed to seek a second vote before the end of this Congress on his bill to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

McCain is chief cosponsor, along with Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), of the Climate Stewardship Act, S. 139, which would create the infrastructure necessary to ration hydrocarbon energy. McCain made his pledge during a hearing of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which he chairs.

Kerry Lobbying for Votes
S. 139 does not have the votes to be passed out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, yet McCain secured a vote for it on the Senate floor last October 30, when a weaker version of the bill was defeated 43 to 55. McCain had forced Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) to schedule the vote on S. 139 in exchange for McCain’s agreement to allow the Domenici energy bill to be replaced by the Daschle energy bill from the previous Congress. That switch required unanimous consent under Senate rules.

Rumors are circulating on Capitol Hill that McCain plans to force a new vote by using the same tactics if his party leadership requires his vote on some key procedural matter this summer. It is also rumored that Senator John F. Kerry (D-Massachusetts) is urging his 10 Democratic colleagues who voted no on S. 139 last October to switch their votes and thereby pass the bill. It is surmised by some Senate staff that the Kerry Presidential campaign believes this outcome would help Kerry and hurt President George W. Bush in the election.

EIA Finds Bill More Costly than Iraq War
The McCain-Lieberman bill would have significant economic costs, according to a new analysis by the Energy Information Administration. The estimated price tag, according to EIA, is $776 billion.

EIA’s estimate of the total cost of S. 139 as originally introduced was a principal factor in Lieberman and McCain’s decision to drop their proposed second phase of emissions reductions when they offered their bill on the Senate floor last October. That amended bill, SA 2028, is what McCain has pledged to bring to a vote before the session closes.

The new analysis by EIA, which is the independent analytical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, was done at the request of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana). Landrieu recently said she was thinking about changing her vote from no to yes if SA 2028 comes to a floor vote.

The EIA analysis concluded that, under SA 2028, the price to emit a metric ton of carbon equivalent would rise from $55 in 2010 to $167 in 2025, compared with a growth from $79 to $221 over the same period under S. 139 as originally introduced.

SA 2028 would have little effect on the natural gas sector, but would significantly affect the gasoline, electric power, and coal sectors. Gasoline prices would rise 9 percent by 2010 and 19 percent by 2025. The price of electricity (cents per Kwh) would rise from the reference case of 6.42 to 6.82 in 2010 and 9.09 in 2025.

Under S. 139, the coal industry would have been badly hit, reducing production by 14 percent in 2010 and 78 percent in 2025 compared to the baseline scenario. The impact under SA 2028 is still severe, with production dropping by 8 percent by 2010 and 59 percent by 2025. Under SA 2028, EIA expects the price of a short ton of coal to increase from $24.41 to $107.96 in 2025, an increase of 366 percent.

Those price increases would have a negative effect on the economy. The cumulative GDP loss from 2004-2025 would be $776 billion, with a peak annual loss of $76 billion in 2025. When discounted to present value at 7 percent, the cost of the program to the economy in 2025 amounts to $290 billion. Congress has appropriated $135 billion to pay for the costs of the war in Iraq.

Myron Ebell oversees global warming and international environmental work at the Competitive Enterprise Institute ( He also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, a subgroup of the National Consumers Coalition that focuses on climate change issues.

For more information …

The Energy Information Administration’s analysis of the cost of the amended McCain-Lieberman global warming bill, SA 2028, is available online at