Kerry and Lieberman unveil America Power Act


Okay, the long anticipated new climate change Senate bill authored by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) was finally unveiled. The American Power Act at first glance does appear to be an improvement over the House bill (Waxman-Markey) in that there appears to be added certainty on offsets. Kerry and Lieberman tout the bill as a jobs bill and a step toward achieve energy security, while reducing carbon pollution by 17 percent in 2020 and by over 80 percent in 2050.  Unlike W-M, the Kerry-Lieberman bill enumerates a specific and lengthy list of eligible offset categories. K-L also addresses offset regulation in a way that weaves together both EPA regulatory and USDA oversight responsibilities, ultimately, in a step likely to annoy both the agriculture and environment community, requiring consultations between the two in most cases for offset designation and removal. As expected, and basically mandated by farming groups and their congressional champions, the USDA is given the primary role over agricultural and forest offset approval, while the EPA has a similar role over other offsets. Time will tell whether this complicated approach in which USDA may be required to take on the unsavory role of a regulatory agency is workable. My guess is that it will not work as proposed.  On the bright side is the provision making environmental consideration of offsets is still in place for sequestration projects, especially to protect habitat and native species. In general environmental considerations may even be stronger then W-M.

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