Saturday, February 27, 2010

Graham-Kerry-Lieberman bill would cap power-plant emissions, boost carbon capture and drilling

UPDATE, March 2: "Several moderate senators today welcomed moves to pare back comprehensive energy and climate change legislation by dealing with different sectors of the economy in different ways," reports Darren Samuelsohn of Environment and Energy News (subscription only). March 3: Samuelson reports, "Key senators are weighing a request from Big Oil to levy a carbon fee on the industry rather than wrap it into a sweeping cap-and-trade system that covers most of the U.S. economy. If accepted, the approach -- supported by ConocoPhillips, BP America and Exxon Mobil Corp. -- could rearrange the politics of the Senate climate debate and potentially open up votes that may not be there otherwise."

"Three key senators are engaged in a radical behind-the-scenes overhaul of climate legislation, preparing to jettison the broad 'cap-and-trade' approach that has defined the legislative debate for close to a decade," Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson report for The Washington Post. "The sharp change of direction demonstrates the extent to which the cap-and-trade strategy -- allowing facilities to buy and sell pollution credits in order to meet a national limit on greenhouse gas emissions -- has become political poison."

The senators are Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Democrat John Kerry of Massachsetts and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a former Democrat who caucuses with that party. "They plan to introduce legislation next month that would apply different carbon controls to individual sectors of the economy instead of setting a national target," the Post reports. The plan could face strong opposition, but environmentalists "said the shift in strategy represents the best shot at getting something done this year."

According to the reporters' "sources familiar with the process," power plants would have an overall limit on air emissions, which would gradually become more stringent; "motor fuel may be subject to a carbon tax whose proceeds could help electrify the U.S. transportation sector; and industrial facilities would be exempted from a cap on emissions for several years before it is phased in. The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and would provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities." (Read more)

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