Details of the comprehensive green economy legislation being negotiated by a bipartisan trio of senators are leaking out, as draft language nears completion. In a meeting yesterday with a coalition of industry lobbyists, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) unveiled an eight-page draft outline for their bill. They are attempting to mirror the House’s bipartisan vote for the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act (H.R. 2454) last summer to achieve President Barack Obama’s stated goal of comprehensive clean energy reform to restore the American economy. The overall structure of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman draft, as reported by E&E News, shows its emphasis on a sectoral approach to fighting climate change:
Overall, the bill will include eight titles: Refining, America’s Farmers, Consumer Refunds, Clean Energy Innovation, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Energy Independence. And it will set up new nationwide standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as ideas on carbon market regulation crafted by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
The bipartisan trio has announced they are drawing some ideas from the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a framework for climate policy that has gained praise from the oil industry, AARP, and some prominent climate activists. The CLEAR Act’s cap and trade program is designed to resemble a carbon tax by putting strong restrictions on the carbon market, with the bulk of the revenues going into equal consumer rebates (”cap and dividend”). The size of the market is limited not by offsets but by very weak caps and a low ceiling price.
From the details that have been released by the members of the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce working group of top polluter lobbyists who met with the legislators yesterday, it appears that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman draft is consistent with President Obama’s principles and similar in its policy aims to the Waxman-Markey ACES Act.
Further information will be required to determine if the legislative package will allow the United States to join an international solution to global warming. The chances of passing this legislation in an election year depend on whether enough political pundits will believe, as Kerry and Graham do, that their approach is the right political response to the headline-making shocks of rising gas prices, faltering economic competitiveness, and increasing climate instability.
The following table compares key elements of Obama’s campaign promises from 2007 and 2008, the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act as passed by the House of Representatives, and the rumored elements of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman draft outline.
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