05/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

After Health Care: Climate & Energy Legislation

"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
More Info:

Key Elements:
  • Price on Carbon to Drive Clean Energy Job Creation Nationwide
  • Greenhouse Gas Reductions. 17 % reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 & 83 % by 2050
  • US Renewable Energy Electricity Standard (RES) of 20% by 2020
  • R&D of $190 billion to energy efficiency, renewables, carbon capture & storage, electric vehicles
  • Transmission Grid Investments
  • Energy Efficiency for Buildings, Lights, Appliances
  • Electric Vehicle Provisions
  • Green Bank Financing Office
  • Carbon Offsets Program
  • Coal Plant Pollution & CCS Standards
  • Protections & Cost Supports for New Technology Development, Consumers, & Some Industries
II. SENATE CLIMATE BILL ( "Kerry-Graham-Lieberman") Key Dates: Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman are working on bipartisan compromise legislation for March 2010; March meeting occurred with Republican & Democratic senators with President Obama Authors: Sen. John Kerry (Democrat), Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican), & Sen. Joe Lieberman (Independent) Key Elements:
  • Cap-and-Trade Replaced with Carbon Caps on Specific Parts of the Economy - Electic Utilities, Transportation, and Industry.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reductions. 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 & 80% over "long term"
  • Carbon Capture & Sequestration Standards & Research Funding
  • Domestic Oil & Gas Production Expanded, Including New Offshore Drilling
  • Nuclear Power: Incentives for nuclear power plants & low-emissions transportation

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

Key Elements:
  • US Renewable Energy Electricity Standard (RES) of 15% by 2021. Qualifying sources: energy efficiency, wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydro, hydrokinetic, waste-to-energy, and new hydro at existing dams.
  • Transmission "Interstate Highway System" & Grid Security. Creates new planning system based on local, state and regional input with states taking initial lead. New security powers to Dept or Energy & FERC.
  • Green Bank Financing Office
  • CCS R&D Funding.6.6 billion for 10 "early mover" large-scale CCS projects
  • Offshore Drilling in Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Opens 3.8 billion barrels of new oil resources & 21.5 trillion cubic feet of new natural gas resources.

Donnie Fowler
Silicon Valley, California