Baucus Will Back Bill to Cap Global Warming

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus said Wednesday he will back a Senate plan that calls for a cap on global warming gases.

Baucus, D-Mont., said he has been working with the bill’s sponsors, Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner, to make sure provisions were included to help Montana’s coal industry with new technologies and let Montana farmers sell carbon offsets to industry.

The bill ultimately requires power plants and vehicles to reduce their greenhouse gases by 70 percent. It is seen as a compromise that could pass by next year.

“We cannot be good stewards if we ignore the fact that climate change threatens to result in longer droughts, more severe wildfire seasons and no glaciers in Glacier National Park,” Baucus said in a release.

The Bush administration has opposed mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, saying such regulations would stifle economic growth.

The support of Baucus, and the rest of Montana’s delegation, could be key to passage of any global warming legislation.

In 2003, Baucus was one of 10 Democrats to vote against a similar global warming bill sponsored by Lieberman, I-Conn, that would have required carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 2000 levels by 2010.

“(Baucus’) support increases the likelihood that this bill will be approved by the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, though the bill won’t become law in this Congress unless President Bush drops his opposition to mandatory greenhouse gas controls,” said Frank O’Donnell, head of the environmental advocacy group Clean Air Watch.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., did not say whether he would support the specific proposal Baucus is backing, although he agrees global warming is a problem.

“As part of a comprehensive domestic energy policy, it’s critical we address growing concerns regarding carbon dioxide emissions,” Rehberg said. “As Montana’s congressman, I’m constantly looking for any new opportunities to develop technology that will make future energy sources cleaner and more reliable.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has said he supports efficiency approaches, such as tax credits for fuel economy, and development of renewable energies.

“This country needs to address climate change and this bill is full of innovative ideas to do that,” Tester spokesman Matt McKenna said. “Jon is looking forward to working with (Baucus) to find solutions that can make Montana a leader in the effort to deal with global warming, and this bill will be a part of that.”