You can stop holding your breath now, it’s really happening. Today Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman will unveil the Senate Climate Bill to the nation. Without the aid of their co-author, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham — who walked away from the bill in April — the two Senators will attempt to push the bill through the Senate and garner the magical 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. So maybe you should keep holding your breath, because this bill is far from passed. But at least now we can take a look at what it says.
The bill is separated under 12 headings detailing the most important climate issues that the United States faces right now including nuclear energy, coal, offshore drilling, carbon capture, transportation and renewable energy. It is comprehensive and quite long clocking in at about 1,000 pages. It will call for a scaling back of carbon emissions nationwide starting with a 17% reduction (by 2005 standards) by 2020 to an 85% reduction by 2050.
Though Senator Graham will not stand with Senators Lieberman and Kerry to announce the unveiling of the bill his ideas remain intact on its pages. The three co-authors of the bill have already been all over Congress chatting up those wary of the bill and attempting to write its contents with their wants in mind. While it looks quite appealing to us, it’s not perfect — we’d love it if they kept the kibosh on offshore drilling. Though they have included the wishes of those that want to keep up their beloved “drill, baby, drilling” and “mine, baby, mining,” there are quite a few pieces of the bill that those against it will find completely unfavorable.
For example the bill includes every industry under the sun under the possible new carbon allowance system. Polluters will be involved in a mass carbon auction where credits are doled out regulating how much carbon they are allowed to spew into the atmosphere. This section also calls for promulgation of carbon sequestration technologies and severe penalties for those that don’t comply with the carbon trade. These restrictions will begin with power plants only and move on to other energy-intensive industries as years pass.
Though, as we noted, the bill is far from law it is a giant leap in the right direction. Let’s hope Congress can snap to it and decide to put this bill in the real books and get the US on the — geeze, finally — right path towards emissions reductions.