Meet the New 4-Part Climate Bill


Photo via a Green Living

It looks like Senate Democrats are indeed going to make one last push for energy reform before the November election circus takes the main stage. The legislation, which hasn't been entirely hammered out yet, will have four main parts, Politico reports -- including a part specifically designed to address the BP Gulf Spill and offshore drilling. Here's a quick look at those parts: From Politico:

Reid confirmed the bill will have four parts: an oil spill response; a clean-energy and job-creation title based on work done in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; a tax package from the Senate Finance Committee; and a section that deals with greenhouse gas emissions from the electric utility industry. [Note that the 'tax package' indicates tax breaks for renewables, not new taxes on the public]

"In this stage, we've not completed it. But we're looking at a way that's making sure when we talk about pollution, it'll focus just on the utility sector," Reid said.

Those four parts will likely be cobbled together piecemeal from many different already existing pieces of legislation, and the prime carbon-reducing mechanism would be the utility-focused cap. Last Friday, I looked at some of the dangers inherent in this utility-only plan -- but it looks like that's what we're getting. It's weak, it's toothless, but it might be better than nothing.

I say might, because if the utilities have their way (they support a climate bill only on the grounds that they get exemption from stricter EPA pollution controls), then this bill will be capital W worthless, since following the EPA's pollution controls would have more of an effect on overall greenhouse gas emission reduction than the wimpy bill will.

Other parts of the bill would be BP spill-related -- removing the $75 liability cap, maybe, and setting up tougher offshore drilling regs. Finally, there are tenets in the bill that will be designed to encourage clean energy development and investment, job creation in the sector, tax breaks for renewables, and perhaps a renewable energy standard requiring utilities to get some 10-15% of their energy from clean sources in the near future.

Democrats are hoping to get vote on the bill by the end of July, though it's far from certain that there are 60 votes for it as it stands.

CAP has a breakdown of all of the bills being considered for the legislation, as well as some good ideas on what should be included.

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