The Senate's Climate Bill
Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 29, 2009
Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry are expected to release their version of a climate bill tomorrow. News reports say the bill is meant to be a starting point for the Senate's deliberations.
Although reports say it will be based on the Waxman-Markey bill that passed narrowly through the House, it will lack detail on many of the key issues. For example, it will not prescribe how carbon allowances are supposed to be distributed among various industries. And unlike the House bill, the Senate version will contain nuclear power and clean coal provisions.
The Senate's climate legislation also will propose a tougher limit on carbon emissions than the Waxman-Markey bill. It will seek to reduce emissions by 20 percent of the 2005 level in 2020, rather than the 17 percent reduction contained in the House bill.
Already one group of senators is voicing concerns about the Senate bill. In a letter to Sen. Boxer, the bipartisan group said, "We write today to advocate for policies which will ensure any climate and energy bill take optimal advantage of America's abundance of clean-burning natural gas to dramatically lower emissions in both the near and long term." According to one report, the senators want natural gas-fueled power plants to receive the same incentives as coal plants.
Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today accused the Treasury Department of continuing to hide information on the cost of climate legislation. In a news release, CEI said it had notified the Treasury Department of its intent to sue over the administration's "inadequate disclosure of documents" recently requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
Documents released by the Treasury Department two weeks ago show the administration believed climate legislation could cost as much as $300 billion per year, which was much higher than the government's public estimates, and could result in companies moving overseas. Studies have shown that the Waxman-Markey bill could eliminate 2 million American jobs a year.
The Senate is expected to take up the climate bill after it completes its work on the health care plan.