Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kerry & Lieberman Roll Out The American Power Act

May 12: Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the long-awaited details of their comprehensive energy and climate change legislation which they said would "create jobs, strengthen America's energy independence, safeguard our national security, and restore our global economic leadership for decades to come." [See WIMS 5/7/10]. The previous roll out of the bill, scheduled for April 28, was cancelled when Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), part of tripartisan Senate coalition with Senators Kerry and  Lieberman, announced that he would be "unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time." [See WIMS 4/2/10].
    Senator Kerry said, "The American Power Act will finally change our nation's energy policy from a national weakness into a national strength. We can finally tell the world that America is ready to take back our role as the world's clean energy leader. This is a bill for energy independence after a devastating oil spill, a bill to hold polluters accountable, a bill for billions of dollars to create the next generation of jobs, and a bill to end America's addiction to foreign oil and protect the air our children breathe and the water they drink. The path to 60 votes in the Senate has been long, but despite Washington conventional wisdom, we are closer than ever to a breakthrough. Two Congresses ago, we had 38 votes for energy and climate legislation. Last Congress we had 54 Senators prepared to vote yes. Now we're asking this Senate to hold a debate and insist on a vote again, with a fundamentally new policy approach that should secure bi-partisan support. This is the time. We have a House bill already passed. We have a never-before-seen coalition from across America, including key stakeholders embracing energy and climate legislation for the first time ever. They aren't giving up, they're doubling down. They understand this isn't a choice, it's a necessity, and we're going to get it done this year."
    Senator Lieberman said, "The American Power Act is fundamentally different from previous energy and climate bills -- and not just because it will be the one that actually passes. Our bill will create jobs and transform the American economy; make our country more energy independent, which in turn will strengthen our national security; and improve the quality of the air we breathe. We are proud to have support from a growing and unprecedented coalition of business, national security, faith, and environmental communities, who are energized to work hard to pass this bill this year. America has a lot to gain from getting started now."
    Information released by Senators Kerry and Lieberman indicated that the American Power Act will transform our economy, set us on the path toward energy independence and improve the quality of the air we breathe. It will create millions of good jobs that cannot be shipped abroad and it will launch America into a position of leadership in the global clean energy economy.
    The bills approach sets an "achievable national pollution reduction target and refunds the money raised right back to American consumers and American businesses." The Senators indicated, "This is not a plan that enriches Wall Street speculators. And this is certainly not a plan to grow the government. It is a plan that creates jobs and sets us on a course toward energy independence and economic resurgence. It is time for Democrats, Republicans and Independents to come together to pass legislation that will create American jobs and achieve energy security, while reducing carbon pollution by 17 percent in 2020 and by over 80 percent in 2050." The Senators said the bill is supported by a wide and deep coalition of business leaders, environmentalists, political leaders and others.
    The Senators released supporting statements from: T. Boone Pickens; National Resources Defense Council; Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; PSEG; NRG Energy, Inc.; Solazyme, Inc.; Firelake Capital Management LLC; SynGest Inc.; Republicans for Environmental Protection; A123Systems; Operation Free; Exelon; General Electric; a joint statement from many environmental organizations including Alliance for Climate Protection, Audubon, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Climate Solutions, Defenders of Wildlife, ENE (Environment Northeast), Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Fresh Energy, Green For All, League of Conservation Voters, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oxfam America, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, The Wilderness Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, and World Wildlife Fund; Nuclear Energy Institute; The Timberland Company; The Climate Group; Nike; Renewable Energy Markets Association; Entergy Corporation; National Farmers Union; PG&E Corporation; DuPont; Shell Oil; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Duke Energy; and Dow Corning.
    The Senators released a number of document including: the full text of the bill; a short summary of the bill.; a section by section summary of the bill; a one page explanation of the bill's support for American manufacturing; a one page explanation of the bill's section on transportation and refined products; a one page explanation of the bill's push to free us from our addiction to foreign oil; a one page explanation of the bill's help for American consumers; a press release announcing the introduction of the bill; and a 9-page listing of brief supporting statements of what people are saying about the bill.
    According to summary information, the legislation will create American jobs and achieve energy security, while reducing carbon pollution by 17 percent in 2020 and by over 80 percent in 2050. Our plan is based on five simple principles:
  • First: Consumers will come out on top. The American Power Act sends two-thirds of all revenues not dedicated to reducing our nation's deficit back to consumers from day one. The rest is spent ensuring a smooth transition for American businesses and investing in projects and technologies to reduce emissions and advance our energy security. In the later years of the program, every penny not spent to reduce the deficit will go directly back to consumers.
  • Second: We need energy made in America. Today we spend almost one billion dollars every day on foreign oil, much of which is sent to regimes that are hostile to our nation and our interests. That is money we should be investing here at home. The American Power Act invests in technology to harness domestic power supplies and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
  • Third: America needs to regain its competitive edge and lead the global clean energy economy. America enjoys an abundance of home-grown energy sources: coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables. Each will play a critical role in our clean energy future. By investing in innovation across all energy sources, we will create millions of jobs rebuilding our energy infrastructure as we reinvigorate our manufacturing base, which will be called upon to produce the clean energy technologies of tomorrow.
  • Fourth: We need a new approach to reducing emissions that recognizes the different needs of our different industries. The American Power Act includes separate, targeted mechanisms for the three major emitting sectors: power plants, heavy industry and transportation. Each approach is tailor-made to ensure a smooth transition into our collective clean energy future.
  • Fifth: The system must be simple, stable and secure. We only address the largest sources of carbon pollution and we provide predictability to businesses and consumers through a hard price collar and the creation of a single, clear set of rules. Our carbon market structure eliminates the possibility of manipulation, which will mean a secure, well-functioning market system.
    A few highlights included in the bill are: one clear set of rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; States will not be permitted to operate cap-and-trade programs for greenhouse gases; a hard price collar which binds carbon prices and creates a predictable system for carbon prices to rise at a fixed rate over inflation; Introductory floor and ceiling prices are set at $12 (increasing at 3 percent over inflation annually) and $25 (increasing at 5 percent over inflation annually), respectively; $7 billion annually to improve our transportation infrastructure and efficiency, including our highways and mass transit systems; new protections for coastal states by allowing them to opt-out of drilling up to 75 miles from their shores; directly impacted states can veto drilling plans if they stand to suffer significant adverse impacts in the event of an accident; States that do pursue drilling will receive 37.5 percent of revenues to help protect their coastlines and coastal ecosystems;
    In 2016, energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries receive allowances to offset both their direct and indirect compliance costs; expanding the clean energy manufacturing tax credit by $5 billion; Farmers are exempt from the carbon pollution compliance obligations in the bill; establish a new multi-billion dollar revenue stream for the agricultural sector through a domestic offset program that provides incentives for farmers to reduce emissions on their land; annual incentives of $2 billion per year for researching and developing effective carbon capture and sequestration methods and devices; removing disincentives for natural gas generation at merchant plants; a broad package of financial incentives to increase nuclear power generation including regulatory risk insurance for 12 projects; The bill only requires the largest sources of pollution to comply with reduction targets: those who produce more than 25,000 tons of carbon pollution annually. This means the program only focuses on 7,500 factories and power plants.
    Access Senator Kerry's American Power Act website for links to the various documents released (click here).