"Cap-and-trade as we know it is dead, but the issue of cleaning up the air and energy independence should not die -- and you will never have energy independence without pricing carbon." Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican-S.Carolina) reflected the reality that Congress now faces as it negotiates a comprehensive climate and energy package that might get voted on before this November's congressional elections. One alternative to cap-and-trade has been a cap-and-dividend bill sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The leading solution, though, appears to be coming from a bipartisan group of senators led by John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Graham that would put a price on carbon emissions that targets only the electric utility, transportation, and industrial sectors of the economy.
The Senate is where the current debate lies because the House of Representatives already passed its bill in June 2009 (the "ACES Act" or the "Markey-Waxman" bill). The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill will join an energy bill written by Sen. Jeff Bingaman last Fall as the main vehicle for a new national policy. The House of Representatives must then decide what to do about its own bill and the Senate's before President Obama signs anything into law. "It will be a very different mix of a bill from where we were at the end of the House effort," Kerry said. "It will be simpler, and hopefully, capable of attracting support."
Make no mistake about the post-health care debate. The oil companies, right-wingers, and climate change deniers will attack anything -- absolutely anything -- that arises in Congress as a threat to the economy. So now is the time to begin arming yourselves for a fight to create a brand new economy in our country (and catch up with the Europeans and the Chinese), to get ourselves out from under the thumbs of the oil dictators overseas, and to create jobs to go with the newly turned-around economy.
I. HOUSE CLIMATE & ENERGY BILL ("ACES Act" / "Waxman-Markey bill")
Key Date: Passed June 2009 by House (219 to 212)
Authors: Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of House Energy & Commerce Cmte; Rep. Ed Markey, Chairman of Cmte on Energy Independence & Global Warming
III. SENATE ENERGY BILL ("American Clean Energy Leadership Act" / "Bingaman bill")
Key Date: legislation passed by Energy Committee June 2009; additional amendments and new pieces of legislation are being debated in the Energy Committee in 2010
Author: Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
Silicon Valley, California