Posted by: Steven M. Taber | September 29, 2009

Early Draft of Boxer-Kerry Climate Change Bill Released, But Still Much Work to Be Done

Update 09/30/09 The Boxer-Kerry bill introduced at the press conference this morning – also known as Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act – dropped the provision requiring the EPA Administrator to promulgate standards for aircraft and aircraft engines.  Instead, it includes a more general provision that

. . . the Administrator may establish provisions for averaging, banking, and trading of greenhouse gas emissions credits within or across classes or categories of motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines, nonroad vehicles and engines (including marine vessels), and aircraft and aircraft engines, to the extent the Administrator determines appropriate and considering the factors appropriate in setting standards under those sections.

In his article that appeared in the New York Times on September 28, 2009, Darren Samuelson stated that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) is attempting to move the discussion away from “cap-and-trade” and to focus on “pollution reduction:”

Kerry last week sought to change the vernacular surrounding the climate bill and sell its concepts more broadly, insisting it is not a “cap and trade” proposal but a “pollution reduction” bill. “I don’t know what ‘cap and trade’ means. I don’t think the average American does,” Kerry said. “This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it’s a pollution reduction bill”

The early discussion draft that was released on September 29, 2009, reveals that the “Boxer-Kerry” bill is similar to the HR 2454 (also known as “Waxman-Markey” or “American Climate and Energy Security Act”) which was passed by the House earlier this past summer, most notably, they both “contain the same longer-term emissions limits of 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and an 83 percent cut for 2050.”   http://bit.ly/3TPuk There are, however, a couple of notable differences.

  1. Boxer-Kerry “diverges from the House measure in its push for a 2020 emissions target of 20 percent, compared with the House’s bill’s 17 percent limit.” http://bit.ly/3TPuk
  2. In Subtitle D “Carbon Market Assurance,” oversight and assurance of carbon markets are given solely to the “Federal Commodities Trade Commission.”  § 431(b)(1). The working group established in § 431(c) will make its recommendations to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
  3. There is a short Subtitle – “Nuclear and Advanced Technologies,” which covers “nuclear grants and programs,” but nothing else. Although the draft includes a section “Nuclear Waste Research and Development,” it is, for the time being, blank.  Subtitle D, “Nuclear and Advanced Technologies,” §§ 141 and 142.
  4. Boxer-Kerry includes a provision stating that the EPA Administrator shall promulgate greenhouse gas emission standards for aircraft and new aircraft engines. § 821(c).

The early draft also is different from the House Bill for what it does not contain, for example:

  1. Boxer-Kerry does not bar the EPA from considering greenhouse gas emissions from “international indirect land-use changes” when implementing the national biofuels mandate. http://bit.ly/3TPuk
  2. Unlike ACES, Boxer-Kerry does not contain a section that restricts the EPA’s ability to enact climate change regulations. http://bit.ly/3TPuk

Despite these differences, the bulk of the draft Senate bill contains many of the same provisions of ACES. Moreover, this is an early draft of the bill, the completed bill is expected to be released at a Wednesday, September 30, 2009, press conference. As Darren Samuelsohn stated in his New York Times article:

Already last week, several Democratic senators working outside of the Boxer-Kerry camp said their ideas would be melded into the legislation at a later date. “It’s going to need a lot of work,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Yes, indeed.

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