ENV2073_f09_exam2_solns - 1(a The House of Representatives...

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p 1/5 1. (a) The House of Representatives has already passed a major climate-change bill this year. The Senate’s version is still under debate. (b) It is not surprising that the House passed their bill first. That is what we would expect. Here are a few reasons why. First, in the House of Representatives, the majority party pretty much has complete control, and currently the Democrats (who favor climate-change legislation more than the Republicans) are the majority party. In the House of Representatives, it is pretty easy for the majority party to push its agenda through, with little means for the minority party to offer significant opposition (except in symbolic fashion). In the Senate, however, the minority party has the right to filibuster against any proposed bill, and breaking the filibuster requires 60% of the Sentate vote. Therefore, in order for a bill to pass the Senate, it must have the support of about 60% of the members, which is significantly harder for the majority party to obtain. Another consideration is that, in the Senate, all states are represented equally, with two senators each. This means that lower- population agricultural states and fossil-fuel states (which are likely to oppose climate-change legislation) have equal power with the high-population coastal states like California and New York (which are likely to support climate-change legislation). This makes it harder to pass a climate- change bill in the Senate unless that bill is “sweetened” considerably for the agricultural and coal- producing states. This brings us to part (c) of the question…: (c) We would expect the Senate bill, if it ever is passed at all, to be less stringent than the House version in terms of emissions reductions. As discussed above, a bill is only likely to pass the Senate if it contains enough hand-outs to satisfy states that might be reluctant. Another consideration is that Representatives in the House represent only a particular district, not an entire state; hence Representatives can afford to be less “centrist” and can vote for strong climate-change legislation if it is supported by their particular districts. Senators, however, must appeal to their entire state if they want to get re-elected, and this means that they have to be more willing to compromise, which is likely to lead to a weaker bill.
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p 2/5 2. (a) The objective of cap-and-trade legislation is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. (b) Cap-and-trade legislation works as follows. The government sets an overall emissions cap of how much carbon dioxide (or other greenhouse gases) can be emitted per year. Then, the government distributes (perhaps by auction, perhaps by give-away) tradeable allowances that grant businesses and industries the right to emit a set amount of greenhouse gas. These two pieces explain why it is called “cap-and-trade.” Businesses that exceed their allowance pay a hefty fine; this provides an incentive to not exceed the allowance. Businesses that emit *less* then their allowance can sell their “extra” allowances to others who otherwise wouldn’t meet their goal.
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