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Senate Climate Bill Contains No Major Surprises

A sneak peak at the Senate climate and energy bill, which will be officially unveiled today (May 12), will include new limits on carbon dioxide pollution from factories, utilities and vehicles, and expand domestic oil production and nuclear power generation, according to Reuters.

As expected, the bill includes a goal to cut U.S. carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. It also calls for additional target reductions of 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050.

Carbon pollution restrictions will be imposed on power plants first, followed by energy-intensive manufacturers in six years, while transportation emissions will be regulated under a national carbon cap under a separate trading program, reports the New York Times. States and cities will be required to set GHG emissions reduction goals for the transportation sector and to develop plans to reach those targets.

The proposal also requires utilities to obtain pollution permits for every ton of carbon they emit starting in 2013, which is similar to the cap-and-trade system passed by the House, reports Reuters. If passed, federal legislation would end state and regional cap-and-trade programs.

The Senate bill includes a hard price collar for carbon, with an introductory floor set at $12 and a ceiling price of $25.

In addition, starting in 2016, energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries will receive allowances to help offset their compliance costs, with rewards for efficiency improvements, according to the New York Times.

Offshore oil drilling is also included in the bill along with protections for coastal states due to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill will allow states to opt out of drilling up to 75 miles from their shores and have the ability to veto drilling plans “if they stand to suffer significant adverse impacts in the event of an accident.” States will also receive 37.5 percent of the revenue if they go ahead with drilling.

The bill also provides tax and loan guarantee incentives to expand nuclear power generation. It also calls for additional assistance to people disproportionately impacted by rising energy prices, two biomass studies and a larger role by the USDA for overseeing agriculture offsets.

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