American Power Act: Senators Kerry and Lieberman Release “Discussion Draft” of New Climate Change Bill

Alec D. Rogers, Jeffrey H. Wood
New Federal Initiatives Project
The Federalist Society

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On May 12th, 2010, Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman released a long awaited draft of their American Power Act (APA). The legislation was originally planned to be issued as a bi-partisan measure, but those hopes disappeared when Senator Lindsey Graham withdrew his support to protest the decision by Senate leaders to give priority to immigration legislation over climate change legislation. Observers assert that the lack of Republican support means that the measure stands little chance of enactment this year. Nevertheless, the purportedly bi-partisan approach taken in the bill may offer insights into any ultimately successful legislation.

The bill, which is being circulated as a “discussion draft” and has not been officially filed in the Senate, aims at achieving greater energy independence, driving US leadership in green energy technology creation and deployment, creating economic growth and US green energy related jobs, reducing pollution, and improving public health. Key to these efforts are the bill’s support for greater use of domestic nuclear energy, allowance of revenue sharing to encourage states to allow offshore continental drilling in certain areas, creation of a fund to drive carbon sequestration research and deployment, implementation of performance standards for coal-fired power plants built after 2009, and the creation of a Clean Energy Technology Fund.

The central features of the bill, however, are caps on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and the creation of a market to trade in GHG permits, a so-called “cap and trade” approach to dealing with climate change.  The approach taken to cap and trade is not economy-wide as in other bills previously introduced but focused on those sectors of the economy that are responsible for the bulk of GHG emissions: power plants, transportation and heavy manufacturing (“covered entities”).

The unveiling of this draft legislation is just one of many recent developments in climate change law and policy.  For a more comprehensive discussion of other recent developments, please refer to the NFIP paper by Jeffrey Clark on EPA’s Endangerment Rule published on April 24, 2010.

The rest is at The Federalist Society.

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