And they said it couldn’t happen – new greenhouse gas legislation

13 May 2010

As we reported previously, three Senators (Kerry (D), Lieberman (I) and Graham (R)) had been working on legislation to respond to EPA’s much-reported plans to regulate greenhouse gasses and similar legislation from the House of Representatives.    Yesterday, two of those Senators unveiled The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S1733.  At 821 pages, there’s a lot in there for everyone and a lot for everyone to oppose.   The legislation aims to cut emissions of CO2 and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 20% from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.    The Senators tout this bill as a step toward national security, away from climate change and toward economic competitiveness and strength.

The heart of the bill would set a price on carbon emissions for large polluters such as coal-fired power plants with later implementation for petrochemicals and manufacturing.  Restrictions would not take effect until 2013 for power plants and transportation fuels, and 2016 for manufacturers.  Certainly, some business groups have come out in opposition, particularly in light of the current state of the economy.  Increasing the cost of CO2 in a weak economy has its dangers.  While there will be no direct caps on smaller (and that includes some fairly large businesses) GHG generators, certainly there will be indirect effects as energy generation becomes more expensive.

Kerry and Lieberman said the bill would exempt farms and most small and medium-sized businesses, concentrating efforts on the largest polluters.  It is interesting to note that Senator Graham of South Carolina was reportedly involved in the bill’s drafting but now is not associated with it.

The bill would offer incentives of up to $2 Billion per year to companies to develop clean coal technologies, including methods to capture and store carbon emissions.

The legislation has provisions aimed at boosting nuclear power. It increases funding for nuclear loan guarantees to $54 billion, the same amount President Barack Obama has proposed, and calls on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to speed the licensing and regulatory process for new plants, as well as tax credit for construction expenses. Given recent events in the Gulf of Mexico, it seems likely that opposition will mount to less nuclear power plant regulation and given the political football of waste disposal.

Leave a Reply