The Senate climate bill, to be unveiled now on April 26, sets a 17 percent target reduction for carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels, and allows for the expansion of domestic offshore oil drilling and construction of new nuclear power plants, reports Reuters. It will also prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions and end state and regional carbon-trading programs.
The Senate bill is drafted by Democratic Senator John Kerry, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman. Their aim is to include enough incentives to gain the support of some Republicans, who are needed to pass the climate bill.
The bill was expected to be released some time before Earth Day, which is April 22.
A major point of debate particularly between industry groups and environmentalists is how much power the EPA will have to control emissions under the Clean Air Act. In February, several industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers and three states filed 16 lawsuits against the EPA’s endangerment finding, which allows the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Senate bill will prohibit the EPA from regulating smokestack emissions.
The bill also will replace state and regional carbon-trading programs, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in northeastern states, with a national carbon-reduction policy.
California plans to start a cap-and-trade program in 2011, and two other regional carbon markets, the Western Climate Initiative and the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord are scheduled to start in 2012.
If the Senate climate bill passes, gasoline prices are expected to increase by an average 27 cents per gallon from 2013 to 2020, about an 11 percent rise compared to 2009, according to Point Carbon, reports Reuters.
The market research firm also expects it will take the U.S. about two years to establish a carbon market with projected average pricing of about $31 a ton from 2013 to 2020.
However, Point Carbon also said in the article that carbon prices would be about $18 per ton if the power sector cut emissions 27 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, meeting the U.S. target of a 17 percent reduction over that period.
Despite rumors of a gas tax increase to pay for the energy and climate bill, the White House announced that the Senators and the White House do not support a gas tax increase, reports The Hill.
Ten Democratic senators led by Sherrod Brown (Ohio) sent a letter to Kerry, Graham and Lieberman calling for provisions in the climate bill that address manufacturing competitiveness, which includes a border tax adjustment to ensure overseas competitors with weaker GHG reduction targets don’t underbid American firms, according to The Washington Post.