Legislation in the 106th Congress Related to Global Climate Change

In the 106th Congress, nearly thirty legislative proposals were introduced specifically addressing global climate change. The bills, resolutions and amendments focused on the following categories:  

  • credit for early action to reduce GHG emissions;
  • research into climate change and technologies for reducing GHG emissions;
  • voluntary GHG reductions;
  • GHG emissions reductions from power plants;
  • automotive fuel efficiency;
  • carbon sequestration and the use of biomass; and
  • tax incentives for energy efficiency and technologies for reducing GHG emissions.


GHG Emission Limits

Several bills were introduced in the 106th Congress to control power plant emissions of CO2, as well as three other power plant pollutants — nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury. Many of the bills would allow for trading of CO2 emission credits across firms. In addition, Sen. Robert C. Smith (R-NH), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, held hearings on the power plant four-pollutant approach.

Legislation to provide marketable credits for early GHG reductions was first introduced in 1998 and reintroduced in 1999 by the late Sen. John H. Chafee (R-RI), Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT). Representatives Rick Lazio (R-NY) and Calvin Dooley (D-CA) introduced a similar bill in the House. Under the bills, credits would be issued to businesses and other entities for GHG emission reductions made before the effective date of a future domestic GHG reduction program — thus creating an incentive for early action. The credits, which would be used to comply with such a program, would also have value to companies in a domestic or global GHG market.

S.547: Credit for Voluntary Reductions Act, by Sen. John H. Chafee (R-RI), Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL), and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT)

S.1369: Clean Energy Act, by Sen. Jim M. Jeffords (R-VT)

S.1949: Clean Power Plant and Modernization Act, by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)

H.R.2221: Small Business, Family Farms, and Constitutional Protection Act, by Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN) and Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI)

H.R.2520: Credit for Voluntary Actions Act, by Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY) and Rep. Calvin Dooley (D-CA)

H.R.2569: Fair Energy Competition Act, by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)

H.R.2645: Electricity Consumer, Worker and Environmental Protection Act, by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)

H.R.2900: Clean Smokestacks Act, by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA)

H.R.2980: Clean Power Plant Act, by Rep. Thomas H. Allen (D-ME)

H.R.4859: Great Smoky Mountains Clean Air Act, by Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-NC)


Climate-Friendly Technology

Energy efficiency has been the focus of much effort in the United States since the 1970s. This effort would be built upon by dozens of bills introduced in the 106th Congress. Three bills merit particular attention. Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD) introduced a bill which would create tax incentives to promote the use of energy efficient technologies and renewable power generation. Sen. Robert C. Smith (R-NH) introduced a bill to create tax incentives for energy efficient buildings. Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-ID) introduced a bill to provide a research and development tax credit to companies that reduce GHG emissions.

Additionally, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced bills in the 106th Congress to promote research on climate science and technologies and expand and consolidate the existing voluntary reporting system managed by the Department of Energy. Sen. McCain (R-AZ) held hearings on climate change science as Chairman of the Senate's Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and introduced a bill to establish a new scientific commission to assess changes in global climate patterns and to conduct scientific studies.

S.882: Energy and Climate Policy Act, by Se. Frank H. Murkowski (R-AK)

S.1776: Climate Change Energy Policy Response Act, by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) 

S.1777: Climate Change Tax Amendments of 1999, by Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-ID)

S.1833: Energy Security Tax Act, by Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD)

S.2718: Energy Efficient Buildings Incentive Act, by Sen. Robert C. Smith (R-NH)

S.3237: the International Climate Change Science Commission Act, by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

H.R.3384: Energy and Climate Policy Act, by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)

H.R.3385: To strengthen provisions in the Federal Non-nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974 with respect to potential Climate Change, by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)


Transportation Emissions

Automotive fuel economy has been regulated at the federal level through the establishment of a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard. However, since 1995, Congress has included language in the annual Transportation Department Appropriations Act effectively preventing changes to the CAFE standard. During the 106th Congress, environmental advocacy groups named the removal of the "CAFE freeze rider" as one of their top climate change priorities. An amendment by Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) to remove the rider failed 55-40 in 1999. In 2000, rather than take up a similar amendment, Congress directed the National Academy of Sciences to report by July 2001 on several matters intended to refine Congress's understanding of the issue in time for debate over the FY 2002 Transportation Department Appropriations Act.


Agriculture and Carbon Sequestration

Several bills were introduced in the 106th Congress to reduce the atmospheric levels of CO2 by promoting the sequestration — or storage — of carbon through soil management. Bills were also introduced to advance the use of biomass as a fuel.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) each introduced legislation in the 106th Congress intended to promote soil sequestration of carbon. Sen. Roberts' bill encouraged carbon sequestration use and research, and required the implications of the Kyoto Protocol on the farm economy to be analyzed under various scenarios — including with the use of carbon sinks and market mechanisms. Sen. Brownback introduced two bills; one to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a domestic carbon sequestration program, and a second to establish international conservation projects and rewarding voluntary carbon storage.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced a bill which among other things would base payments to farmers on "the extent to which the [farmer's] conservation security plan incorporates practices that optimize carbon sequestration and minimize greenhouse gas emissions." Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to assess opportunities for increased carbon storage in national forests.

As mentioned, legislation was also introduced to promote the use of biomass as a fuel. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced a bill to provide federal grants for biomass-related activites, including "research on accurate measurement and analysis of carbon sequestration and carbon cycling in relation to biobased industrial products and feedstocks."

S.935: National Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals Act, by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN)

S.1066: The Carbon Cycle and Agricultural Best Practices Research Act, by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)

S.1457: Forest Resources for the Environment and Economy Act, by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

S.1945: Biofuels Air Quality Act, by Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-MO)

S.2540: Domestic Carbon Storage Incentive Act, by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

S.2818: Food Security and Land Stewardship Act, by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)

S.2982: International Carbon Sequestration Incentive Act, by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

S.3260: Conservation Security Act, by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) 

H.R.2788: Biofuels Air Quality Act, by Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-IL)