On October 30, for the first time, the Senate held a vote on climate
change legislation. By a vote of 55-43, senators defeated the "Climate
Stewardship Act of 2003," sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman
(D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ). The bill, S. 139, would have required
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - including carbon dioxide -
to 2000 levels by the year 2010. While it was not expected to pass,
its sponsors indicated they would consider their effort a success if
they received more than 40 votes, and they promised to continue pursuing
similar legislation in the future.
The results of the vote will be provided in FYI #153. Prior
to the vote, there was lengthy floor debate on the measure. Selected
quotations from the debate are provided below. Some paragraphs have
been combined in the interests of space:
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): "The fact is, the overwhelming body of
scientific opinion in America and the world believes that human activity
is causing climate change in the world, and that is an irrefutable fact.
The opponents of this can shop around for the scientists of their choice,
but the overwhelming majority of scientists say this and every year
that evidence becomes more compelling and every year it becomes more
of a compelling problem because of the manifestations of it."
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): "I want to applaud Senators Lieberman
and McCain for presenting this meaningful and comprehensive plan. The
McCain-Lieberman bill will require mandatory greenhouse gas emissions
reductions in the United States from broad sectors of our economy. Rather
than just aiming to limit industrial emissions - as other plans have
done - this legislation will require emissions reductions from four
major sectors of the economy: electric utilities; industrial plants;
transportation; and large commercial facilities.... The McCain-Lieberman
legislation relies on a national cap and trade' system to reduce
the air pollutants that contribute to climate change.... It gives participants
the flexibility of the marketplace, and it works."
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE):"How our Nation addresses global climate
change may prove to be one of the most important economic and environmental
decisions of our time.... We should recognize the efforts of Senators
McCain and Lieberman and others on this particular issue. Although I
disagree with the approach they have proposed, I understand and share
their concerns.... The McCain-Lieberman bill would create mandatory
emissions reductions for greenhouse gases here in this country. The
consequences of such mandates are severe. This bill would raise energy
prices for consumers, agricultural producers, business, and industry,
and have a very negative impact on our economy.... Global warming does
not recognize national borders. The changes under consideration today
are proposed solely for the United States, but our global warming policy
must be broader. The United States alone cannot improve the Earth's
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): "As the world's largest greenhouse
gas emitter, the U.S. has a duty to act.... The McCain-Lieberman amendment
is the right place to start. This is a modest amendment. We would need
to be back to our current level of emissions by 2010.... The amendment
covers six greenhouse gases and the vast majority of our greenhouse
gas emissions.... According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
this amendment would cost less than $20 per household over the life
of the program - we can afford this cost."
SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R-ID): "[This] proposal, S. 139, The Climate
Change Stewardship Act, is portrayed by its proponents to be a modest
legislative attempt to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases. It is hard for me to accept the word modest'
as an accurate descriptive term for the legislation when I measure the
bill by what it does - it regulates carbon dioxide - a gas that is not
a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act, is not a poisonous gas
or toxic substance, and does not represent a direct threat to public
health.... [T]he science today is not yet assembled that can in any
definitive way argue that greenhouse gases and man's presence in the
production of those greenhouse gases is creating the heating trend in
our global environment at this time."
SEN. JIM BUNNING (R-KY): "I believe the science we have seen does
not support the need to engage in questionable policies to control so-called
global warming.' We need more evidence that the climate is actually
affected by emissions, especially carbon emissions, before we act too
quickly.... Instead of arguing over scientific data, we should examine
the impact S. 139 could have on American jobs and the economy.... I
don't see why we should vote to increase energy costs and unemployment.
Voting for this bill does that. It may make us feel better to support
this bill because of its environmental symbolism. But I will choose
substance over symbolism any day. American jobs are of substance."
SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (I-VT): "There are those who say that climate
change is a hoax, a concoction of radical environmentalists and a liberal
media. That is simply hogwash or maybe the whitehouse effect.... To
ignore and dismiss the threat of climate change to the economy and the
environment is like insisting the earth is flat. It flies in the face
of reality.... Twice now, in the energy bills, the Senate has passed
resolutions asking the President to enter into negotiations with all
nations to obtain a binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We have been ignored. The administration has taken no action to accomplish
such a treaty or adopted any policy that will result in real and tangible
reductions.... I urge Senators to support the Lieberman-McCain bill."
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND): "We ignore the health of our environment
at our peril. So the question is not whether but rather how we address
these questions that are being raised about our environment, about climate
change and global warming.... We now live in a global economy and these
issues must be addressed globally. We cannot create emissions caps and
targets that we enforce unilaterally in a manner that encourages American
companies to move overseas and avoid these restrictions. If we do that,
we will end up doing little or nothing to protect our environment while
harming our economy.... While I think this proposal today falls short,
I intend to be a constructive part of future proposals that can and
will offer leadership in the right direction."
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT): "As I hear the science - so-called
- cited on the other side, I want to predict, respectfully, that we
are going to look back at those scientific testaments and put them in
the same category as the scientific studies that were introduced by
the tobacco industry years ago...or the studies that were introduced
by the chemical industry that said chlorofluorocarbons did not put a
hole in the ozone layer.... Senator McCain and I and our cosponsors
on both sides of the aisle have put ourselves on a course. History calls
us to take action. We will not leave this course until the day - may
it come sooner than later - when we adopt this amendment or something
very much like it."