Kerry-Lieberman Climate Change Bill Unveiled

U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced yesterday their much anticipated climate change legislation. Dubbed the “American Power Act,” the sweeping legislation covers 987 pages. To view a summary of the bill, click here.

The centerpiece of the bill is a cap-and-trade system that would levy a tax on large emitters of carbon. The initial rate for a ton of CO2 would be $12, increasing three percent above inflation annually thereafter. The bill also initially places a cap of $25 a ton.

In response to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the legislation would allow states to opt out of drilling off their coasts or allow states to veto drilling in a neighboring state.

The likelihood of the bill passing is slim. The House last June narrowly passed an extremely controversial climate change bill – (H.R. 2454 – American Clean Energy Act) – which has no support in the Senate. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, originally negotiated with Senators Kerry and Lieberman and was set to be a co-author of the bill. Just prior to the introduction of the legislation, however, Sen. Graham announced he would no longer co-author the bill. It is uncertain whether he will support the measure. It appears that no other Republicans currently support the bill, and a few Democrats have concerns as well. Thus, the bill is currently short of the 60 votes needed to move the bill to the floor for a vote by the full Senate.