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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Comparison of Selected Senate Energy and Climate Change Proposals

Brent Yacobucci, Coordinator
Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy

This memorandum provides a short summary and comparison of three legislative proposals that may receive attention in the Senate. While all three proposals fall within the broad category of energy and climate change policy, the specifics of the three proposals vary significantly, and their approaches vary in many ways.

• S. 1462, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA) of 2009, was introduced by Senator Bingaman and reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on July 16, 2009 (S.Rept. 111-48). S. 1462 is a broad energy bill aimed at promoting the development of clean energy technologies, increasing energy efficiency, and promoting domestic energy resources.1 Incentives for new technology include a renewable energy standard (RES) for electric utilities. The bill does not directly address greenhouse gas emissions: provisions for a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system were instead included in S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, sponsored by Senators Kerry and Boxer, and reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on February 2, 2010.2

• S. 2877, the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act, was introduced by Senators Cantwell and Collins on December 11, 2009 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. S. 2877 would establish a program to control only carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (covering 80% of U.S. GHG emissions), requiring fossil fuel producers (e.g., coal mines, gas wellheads) and importers to submit "carbon shares" for the CO2 emissions related to the fossil fuels they produce or import. The President would limit (or cap) the quantity of carbon shares available for submission each year, and the Department of Treasury would distribute all of the carbon shares through monthly auctions.

• A discussion draft of the American Power Act (APA) was released on May 12, 2010 by Senators Kerry and Lieberman. A comprehensive energy and climate change policy proposal, the draft would set GHG reduction goals similar to those in H.R. 2454 (the bill most comparable to the APA draft),3 which passed the House in June 2009. The APA employs a market-based cap-and-trade scheme for electric generators and industry with a separate price mechanism to cover emissions from transportation fuels. The draft proposal would allocate a significant amount of allowance value to energy consumers, low-income households, and the promotion of low-carbon energy technologies. In addition, the draft would provide incentives for the expansion of nuclear power, carbon capture and storage technology, and advanced vehicles.

Date of Report: June 16, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: M-061610
Price: $29.95

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