Kerry-Lieberman Climate & Energy Bill Unveiled

May 13, 2010

k2Following months of negotiation, Senators Kerry and Lieberman on Wednesday announced their compromise climate and energy bill, the American Power Act. It’s significantly different from the Waxman-Markey House bill passed last year and faces the challenge of securing 60 votes needed for passing in the Senate. Key differences from the House bill include: -carbon reductions from separate sectors of the economy, particularly utilities and energy-intensive industries, rather than a national cap -increased incentives for conventional energy sources as well as renewable sources The Kerry-Lieberman bill does, however, use the 2020 and 2050 reduction goals of the House bill: 17% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2020. This is followed by 83% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2050, plus accelerated mitigation of some, more potent greenhouse gases than CO2. Following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the bill’s language on offshore oil drilling has been toned down to an extent. States will have the authority to opt out of drilling within 75 miles of their shores and veto drilling off shores of a neighboring state. Moreover, the Department of the Interior will need to assess which states would be affected by a spill should one occur, and those states would be able to block drilling through their state legislatures. While not dubbed a cap-and-trade bill, it does have numerous characteristics of a cap-and-trade, including recognition and use of emissions permits and carbon offsets to help achieve reductions more cost-effectively. “This is a bill for energy independence after a devastating oil spill, a bill to hold polluters accountable, a bill for billions of dollars to create the next generation of jobs and a bill to end America’s addiction to foreign oil,” Kerry said at a press conference. He described stakes for the legislation as “sky high.” The Associated Press noted that Lieberman predicts the bill would pass, citing what he called a growing and unprecedented coalition of business, national security, faith and environmental leaders who are “energized” to work for it. To see a section-by-section summary of the bill, click here. You can also view the bill text here.