Kerry-Lieberman climate bill gets solid support from broad range of interests

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 12 – In a standing-room-only press conference Wednesday, Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) finally launched their postponed “American Power Act” climate bill, predicting it will become carbon-controlling law this year.

Kerry said one reason for his optimism is that unless the bill passes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will regulate to control carbon emissions, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kerry pointed out that while the climate bill places top priority on protecting consumers from energy cost increases, EPA regulation would not provide the same protection.

A second reason for optimism was that Kerry and Lieberman were literally surrounded at their press conference by top energy industry, environmental and evangelical group leaders. Echoing remarks by other supporters, Florida Power & Light Chairman & CEO Lew Hay said that “Senators Kerry and Lieberman deserve tremendous credit for crafting a proposal that would move the country in the right direction on energy and climate issues. After years of debate and half measures, the United States still lacks a long-term national energy strategy, leaving us behind other countries in building and exporting the clean energy economy of the future. If we are to continue to lead the world in technological advances, job creation and economic security, we need a new approach. The most essential step, which is at the heart of the American Power Act, is to set a price on carbon dioxide emissions. With a gradually escalating price on carbon that begins to reflect the full social costs of emitting greenhouse gases, the country will make a smooth transition from the high-carbon fuel sources of the past to the next generation of low- and zero-emitting domestic energy sources.”

A number of supporters listed a third reason for optimism – that before he withdrew his co-sponsorship to protest rumored Senate leadership plans to give priority to immigration legislation, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) played a major role in drafting the compromise bill, making sure it included ongoing multi-billion-dollar support for both offshore oil drilling and the nuclear power industry.


Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) at the lectern, with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to the left, surrounded by energy
 industry and environmental group leaders. Photo: Agri-Pulse

Kerry noted that his climate bill incorporates the Senate Energy Committee’s energy bill, the Kerry-Boxer climate bill reported out by the Senate Environment Committee, and provisions developed by the Senate Agriculture Committee. He said the next steps will include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s task of working with a number of Senate committees to craft a final bill for floor consideration.

Reid himself commented Wednesday that “I applaud the efforts of Senators Kerry and Lieberman to develop a proposal that deserves careful consideration by all Senators and the public. The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates the urgent need to free our nation from its heavy dependence on oil and to create new clean energy industries and technologies.. . As I work with Senators Kerry and Lieberman, the relevant committee chairs and the White House to move this process forward, I welcome the ideas of my colleagues to strengthen this proposal. To be successful we will need significant bipartisan cooperation, and I am hopeful Republicans will join us in working to further develop this bill so that it has broad support and can pass this year.”

Noting that the House passed its own climate bill last June, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) commented that the Kerry-Lieberman bill “shares the goals of the House-passed legislation in that it will create clean energy jobs here in America, protect consumers, reduce our dependence on dirty and foreign fuels, and help ensure our national security. I hope that this bipartisan group of Senators will resume their discussions, which have yielded significant progress. I urge the Senate to pass clean energy jobs legislation so that we can work together to send finalized legislation to the President’s desk.”

To read the complete Kerry-Lieberman climate bill along with bill summaries, go to:

For more coverage of the bill including reaction from the National Farmers Union and the National Corn Growers Association, go to:

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