Senate Panel Moves Bill to Curb Greenhouse Emissions
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee by an 11 to one vote on Nov. 5 passed legislation (S. 1733) that would impose a mandatory curb on greenhouse gas emissions, with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) opposing the plan.
Protesting that EPW Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) would not allow the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a full economic analysis of the measure, committee Republicans refused to attend the mark-up of the bill.
Of note to home builders, the bill has energy efficiency standards for buildings that are completely different from those in its House counterpart (see June 29 NBN story). The Senate bill would require the EPA, or other agency designated by the President, to set efficiency targets for a national energy code, but it does not specify percentage increases or dates of compliance.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee also moved separate legislation in July (S. 1462) that takes a different approach to energy efficiency by proposing specific targets: a 30% increase over the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code by 2012 and a 50% increase over 2006 code by 2018. The Department of Energy, however, would be granted flexibility to adjust the 50% target if it determines reaching it would be infeasible.
NAHB expects S. 1462 to be merged with S. 1733 before being considered by the full Senate. It remains unclear what approach, if any, the final Senate legislation will take on residential energy efficiency. NAHB continues to work with Senate staff to address builder concerns with mandatory energy efficiency targets.
Meanwhile, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are working to craft a separate bipartisan measure that would seek to expand the number of nuclear reactors and oil drilling off U.S. coasts. Many senators are taking a wait-and-see approach to determine whether to support this effort or the bill approved by the Senate committee as the main vehicle for any legislative action on the Senate floor.
Significant barriers remain to reaching the 60 votes needed to pass any cap-and-trade bill through the Senate, and several other Senate committees are expected to take up portions of this bill. NAHB does not expect the full Senate to turn to climate legislation until next year.
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NAHB continues to monitor developments closely. For more information, e-mail Elizabeth Odina, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8570.