Just Getting a Climate Bill Out of Committee by December a Good Start: Sen. John Kerry

john kerry photo

photo: Cliff via flickr

The Senate's stab at a climate bill won't take place until after the September recess, but for some insight into how it's going to be framed and what passage of it will mean going into the Copenhagen climate talks in December, Yale Environment 360 is running an interview with Sen. John Kerry that's really worth checking out:This is a Jobs Bill
Kerry's a bit mum on exactly what emission reduction targets and cap-and-trade provisions will be sought, instead consistently framing the climate bill as a jobs bill. This is the first instance, but similar sentiment is peppered throughout the interview:

We don’t want [to be] divisive, we don’t want anything partisan out of this. It’s not a partisan issue. This is an issue that ought to be based on science, on facts, on economics, and on good environmental policy — good economic policy, may I add significantly. I mean, this bill is really a bill for the transformation of the American economy. This bill is about jobs — clean energy jobs that stay here in America, that pay people decent salaries. It represents one of the fastest growing sectors of many of our states, including North Dakota. North Dakota, it has been determined by the [American Wind Energy] Association, is the number one potential state for wind in the country. It could produce ten thousand times its own electricity needs just from wind. So, there are many reasons for people to embrace what is going to be done here. It is an anti-pollution bill that protects children from all the impacts of bad air, and it is a huge step forward for energy independence for our country.

Attempting to head off concerns that cap and trade would be financially burdensome for ordinary people, Kerry points out that for people on the bottom of the economic ladder the House bill would actually net them an additional $40 per year, and for medium and high earners it would add only $75-100 per year for a family of four to their fuel costs.

We're Trying to Find a Way to Save the Coal Industry
But what really stands out is that Kerry takes aim at coal states -- where some notable counter-protests by miners against activists taking on mountaintop removal coal mining only highlights the perceived threat of cap and trade in these areas.

Kerry at one point says "We're trying to find a way to save the coal industry." Then alludes to the fact that without Congressional action on coal -- where the industry has not inconsiderably influence -- the EPA could very well step in regulate CO2 emissions themselves.

Later on the interview he comes back to coal and perceived costs, saying when people really learn what's in the bill -- "billions of dollars" to help develop clean coal technologies, efforts to mitigate any cost increases for the individual homeowner -- they are likely to come around to support it.

We'd Like to Get a Bill Signed in November, But...
As far as what has to happen pre-COP15, Kerry says that while he would obviously like to see a final bill go to the President in November, more realistically if the Senate manages to get a bill out of committee by December it'd be a "good level to go in with."

More on Kerry's views on the challenges a climate bill faces in the Senate, and what role India and China play in all this; Sen. Kerry on Climate Bill: 'We're Going to Get It Done'
Global Climate Change
On the Climate BIll Green Groups Mustn't Surrender When the Battle is Just Starting
G8 Nations 'Clearly Ignored' Our Recommendations on Emission Reductions: IPCC Chair
Germany Leads, US Still Brings Up the Rear: G8 Nations' Climate Change Performance Rankings Released

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