Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) unveiled a much-anticipated energy and climate bill Wednesday, aimed at reducing carbon emissions and encouraging the development of clean energy sources.
The American Power Act, the Senate version of sweeping legislation already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, faces long odds in the U.S. Senate.
Kerry wrote in the Huffington Post Wednesday that the United States should not wait any longer to enact a major transformation in how it produces energy.
“Two Congresses ago, we had 38 votes for a bill. Last Congress, we had 54 votes for cloture out of 60 needed,” Kerry wrote. “Now we can do it — if we find the will. And we damn well better, because I don’t want to attend another event, this year or next year, where I have to look anyone in the eye again and say, ‘Next year we can do it.'”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped write the bill, removed himself as a co-sponsor of the legislation last week because he said the political environment was not conducive to progress on the issue.
Graham was the only Republican supporting the legislation, and without a Republican vote, Democrats will not be able to deliver the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster of the legislation.
President Obama’s top adviser on climate and energy issues, Carol Browner, said the White House would work to pass the bill.
One of the primary components of the bill is a mandate to reduce carbon emissions to 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2050. Power plants, and eventually other businesses, would have a limit on how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases they can emit, but permits to emit more than the limit would be able to be traded among companies.
The bill would also encourage the creation of more nuclear power and lower-emission transportation and energy, including carbon capture and storage.
The massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has been a complicating political factor for the legislation.
“The Gulf of Mexico spill has turned offshore drilling — an issue that once greased the wheels of the grand bargain — into a political toxin,” Kevin Book, analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, told the Associated Press.
Language was added to the bill that would allow states to prohibit oil drilling within 75 miles of their coast.