Boxer, Kerry to Unveil Climate Bill Today
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) are set to roll out long-awaited climate legislation this morning. The two senators, who chair the Senate’s Environment and Public Works and Foreign Relations committees, respectively, are releasing their cap-and-trade bill more than three months after its House counterpart passed in June.
All indications are that the bill will be slightly stronger than the House version. Kate Sheppard obtained a leaked draft (PDF) of the Senate bill that would mandate a 20-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, as opposed to the 17-percent target set by the House. The long-term targets of the two bills — including an 83-percent emissions reduction by 2050 — are largely the same. The Senate bill will also address concerns over the cooperation of China and India, a sticking point in the debate thus far.
Today’s rollout will highlight the national security benefits of the legislation, as Kerry and Boxer will be joined by a retired Navy admiral and a U.S. Army Afghan war veteran. Kerry’s very presence as a lead sponsor of the bill marks a shift from the House debate, when the legislation was crafted and debated almost exclusively by members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
But Kerry also emphasized the environmental and economic advantages of his bill in a column in Politico today. And he didn’t shy away from the game-changing nature of the legislation. “The Clean Jobs and American Power Act is aimed at no less than the reinvention of the way America produces and uses energy,” he wrote.
The Environment and Public Works Committee will now take up debate on the legislation, which will eventually be merged with an energy bill passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June — a bill that left many environmentalists disappointed.
Boxer and Kerry’s draft, on the other hand, is sure to please environmental advocates, with its aggressive targets and retained authority for the Environmental Protection Agency. But given the difficulty of passing progressive health care reform in the Senate — and predictions that climate legislation will be even more contentious — few believe that a bill this strong will be able to clear the Senate floor.