On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Senate unveiled their
much-anticipated climate change bill, the American Power Act. The 1,000-page bill comes almost a year after the House passed its own
version. It faces serious hurdles to pass. The tripartisan authors
of the bill have since become bipartisan, with Republican Lindsey Graham
backing out, leaving Democrat John Kerry and Independent Joe Lieberman.
And the oil spill still spreading
in the Gulf of Mexico has made
President Obama's conservative-baiting call for expanded offshore
suddenly less appealing.
- The Details of the Bill Think
Progress' Brad Johnson summarizes, "Utility (2013) and industry
(2016) cap and trade with linked refinery cap (2013), plus consumer
rebates, support for state-level renewable electricity and energy
efficiency standards, and energy investment." Johnson provides a highly
readable chart explaining the 14 provisions, how they differ from the
House bill, and how they differ from Obama's stated goals.
It Would Spend Cap & Trade Revenues The New Republic's Bradford Plumer explains,
"the cap-and-trade program would generate about $7 billion in revenues
from selling carbon permits to oil companies and refineries. That money
would then get split evenly in three ways." (1) "Federal grants for big
transportation projects." (2) "Highway Trust Fund ... projects that
decreased greenhouse-gas emissions." (3) "Local land-use planning ...
States and metro areas would develop their own plans to reduce transport
emissions—by investing in rail or promoting denser development or
building sidewalks or curbing sprawl or whatever they wanted to do."
Bet' on Carbon Capture Writing in the New York Times, Robert Bryce dissects "carbon capture
and sequestration, the technology that removes carbon dioxide from the
smokestack at power plants and forces it into underground storage." He
calls it, "a technology whose adoption faces three potentially
insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants;
pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully
insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering."
Go Far Without GOP Support The Hill's Ben Geman notes that, with
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham having backed out, "the glaring
absence of a GOP senator underscored the bill’s gloomy future in the
- Oil Spill Makes Passage Less Likely The
New York Times' John Broder sighs, "The country
is nervously watching efforts to halt a damaging oil spill in the Gulf
of Mexico, the Senate is torn by deep partisan hostility and the public
is uncertain whether the benefits of combating global warming are worth
the costs. There is also no assurance that the bill will break through
the crowded Senate calendar to reach the floor this year." Broder
One of the central elements of the Senate bill —
incentives to increase domestic offshore oil production — has been
radically rewritten in recent days, in the aftermath of the explosion
and fire on a drilling rig in the gulf on April 20, leaving an undersea
well leaking oil that has yet to be stanched. Instead of providing for a
broad expansion of offshore drilling, the Kerry-Lieberman measure would
have the effect of drastically limiting oil operations off the Atlantic
and Pacific coasts by giving states the right to veto any drilling plan
that could cause environmental or economic harm.
- Great Bill, but Needs Obama's Backing Climate Progress' Joe Romm praises the bill for
hitting all ten of his "climate and clean energy job" criteria, but
writes that its implementation requires a full push from Obama. "There
really is no Plan B. Certainly leaving this to the EPA and a few states
won’t achieve most of those, especially the crucial international deal.
Sadly, the conventional wisdom is that even this moderate bill has no
chance — and I certainly think it doesn’t have very much chance if Obama
doesn’t start pushing for it as hard as he pushed for healthcare."
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