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Experts: US Climate Bill Would Be Cheap, Mean Modest Results January 24, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–A global warming bill aimed at getting bipartisan support in Congress could be implemented at modest economic cost, but may do little to address the threat, senators were told Wednesday.

The bill being circulated by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., would require mandatory limits on heat-trapping gases, but also contains measures that are aimed at controlling costs to industry.

The bill would curtail the growth of greenhouse gases over the next two decades and eventually reducing them.

Howard Gruenspecht, deputy administrator of the Energy Information Administration, told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday that the bill’s goals could be achieved with relatively small cost to the economy.

Gasoline prices could be expected to increase by about 5%, electricity costs 4% and costs to the overall economy less than 1%, the EIA analysis found.

Bingaman, the committee’s chairman, noted that the EIA also estimated the legislation’s controls would cut the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere by 562 million tons (510 metric tons) in 2020 and 1.2 billion tons (1.09 billion metric tons) by 2030. By comparison, he said energy legislation enacted into law in 2005 is projected to avoid only 90 million tons (81.6 metric tons) by 2020.

But the EIA study noted that greenhouse gases would still continue to increase by nearly one-fourth between now and 2030 and that the bill’s reduction targets may not be met in later years because of a “safety valve” that would allow companies to avoid reductions if they become too costly.

“The trade-off for the modest cost… is that the program being analyzed also achieves relatively modest emission reduction benefits,” Jason Grumet, executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a private group, told the hearing.

Several other bills in Congress would require more aggressive reductions. One measure calls for a 2% reduction in emissions a year to 2020 and a two-thirds cut from current levels by mid-century. Another would aim for an 80% reduction from current levels by 2050.

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