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Volume 87 Issue 40 | p. 10 | News of The Week
Issue Date: October 5, 2009

One-Two Punch On Climate Change

Regulation: Senate, EPA push ahead on plans to cut greenhouse gases
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Climate Change
Keywords: climate-change, EPA, Barbara Boxer
Kerry (left) and Boxer introduce their draft climate-change bill at a rally on Capitol Hill.
Credit: Scott J. Ferrell/CQ/Newscom
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Kerry (left) and Boxer introduce their draft climate-change bill at a rally on Capitol Hill.
Credit: Scott J. Ferrell/CQ/Newscom

Standing before a huge U.S. flag outside the Capitol building and surrounded by supporters, 12 senators—all Democrats—announced on Sept. 30 the introduction of an 820-page climate-change bill. The bill’s primary authors, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), stressed the bill’s potential to create U.S. jobs, produce clean energy, provide greater national security through oil independence, and protect future generations from a changing global climate.

Later that same day, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced a proposal requiring industrial greenhouse gas emitters to reduce future emissions when building new plants or installing new equipment at existing facilities. The regulation is seen as a backstop if Congress fails to clear a climate-change bill.

Jackson’s proposal uses Clean Air Act authority and would include chemical companies, electric utilities, and other large facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, the same threshold in the Boxer-Kerry bill.

At the Capitol rollout, Boxer, Environment & Public Works Committee chair, told reporters she intends to pass the bill through her committee “within weeks.” However, five other committees also have jurisdiction over portions of the bill. Likely to be the most controversial parts of the bill are provisions allocating carbon dioxide allowances to various industrial sectors, authority for which Boxer’s committee shares with the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 20% in 2020 and by 80% in 2050, slightly faster than a climate-change bill that cleared the House in June (C&EN, July 6, page 8). The bill is currently incomplete, however, leaving “placeholders” for sections to be written by other committees.

Kerry explained that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will “meld” the six committees’ products into a single bill and bring it to the floor. Kerry said he hopes this would be possible before international climate-change discussions take place in Copenhagen in December. Senate committee actions, he said, “will show seriousness of purpose” that may aid U.S. negotiators in Denmark.

 
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