Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., have introduced their long-awaited climate bill today without Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was also involved in the crafting of the legislation.
The American Power Act would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17% in 2020 and by over 80% in 2050.
‘Our approach sets an achievable national pollution-reduction target and refunds the money raised right back to American consumers and American businesses,’ John Kerry, D-Mass., stated in a press release. ‘This is not a plan that enriches Wall Street speculators. And this is certainly not a plan to grow the government. It is a plan that creates jobs and sets us on a course toward energy independence and economic resurgence.’
The bill establishes a list of GHGs to be regulated, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons emitted as a byproduct, perfluorocarbons and nitrogen trifluoride. The Environmental Protection Agency administrator may designate additional anthropogenic GHGs by rule.
An annual tonnage limit will be placed on GHG emissions, and a pricing system for carbon will be created. According to the bill, introductory floor and ceiling prices are set at $12 (increasing at 3% over inflation annually) and $25 (increasing at 5% over inflation annually), respectively.
The American Power Act does not include a national electricity mandate unlike H.R.2454 – the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – which establishes a national renewable electricity standard of 20% by 2020.
The American Power Act promotes renewable energy by funding investments in clean energy research and development. The bill directs the secretary of education to award competitive grants in order to develop programs that focus on employment in emerging fields, including renewable energy and climate change mitigation.
Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, issued the following statement in response to the bill.
‘The wind energy industry appreciates the efforts of senators Kerry and Lieberman to address climate change in their proposal,’ she says. ‘We look forward to seeing provisions on renewable energy like a strong Renewable Electricity Standard as well as energy efficiency to create new clean energy jobs and avoid carbon in the near term in any package considered by the Senate. We urge Senate Leadership to move quickly on strong legislation.’
In addition, the secretaries of labor, energy and education are required to develop a Web-based information and clearinghouse to aid career and technical education and job training programs for the renewable energy field.
In the wake of the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, the climate legislation adds new protection to coastal communities by allowing states to opt out of drilling up to 75 miles off their shores. States can also block drilling plans ‘if they stand to suffer significant adverse impacts in the event of an accident.’
States that allow offshore drilling will receive 37.5% of oil revenues. An additional 12.5% will go to federal and state programs under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The American Power Act also encourages domestic nuclear production. The bill increases the funding for the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program to $54 billion and establishes a loan-guarantee retention fee to ensure that money is returned to the program as expeditiously as practicable.