Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The New Senate Energy Bill: A Preview

See the repost from the Atlantic...

Despite the odds, Senate Democrats are determined to pass a comprehensive energy bill by year's end. Their best vehicle is likely to debut on April 26, when Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joseph Lieberman unveil their long-awaited legislation. The senators crafted the bill with the politics of climate change clearly in mind -- along with what appears to have been a somewhat successful campaign by climate change deniers to influence public debate about the wisdom of a massive bill during a recession.

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Although the three senators have been relatively leak-proof about the bill's details, the outline and some details of its provisions have been revealed. The bill would set as a target a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020. The bill takes a sectoral approach to industry: utilities, which generate the most greenhouse gases, would have to start limiting their emissions in 2012. Industrial facilities, which are regionally concentrated and therefore politically contested, would have several more years to adjust before caps were imposed. These would kick in by 2016 -- well after the recession has ended, and presumably after job growth has pulsed. Forcing them to cap emissions now would probably lead to apocalyptic predictions of job losses and entrench opposition from senators and representatives from the states where these legacy factories are keeping people employed. Nota bene: this is one reason why the White House proactively rolled out its nuclear power plant and domestic oil drilling initiatives before the Senate took up the bill.

Follow this link for the complete column..

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