The American Power Act makes its grand debut today, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — and, quite conspicuously, not by Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Kerry dropped by Grist to give his take on the bill and kick-start a discussion — join in.
Here are other perspectives on the bill:
The Washington Post‘s Juliet Eilperin pinpoints a few important provisions, including the fact that this version “returns more money to consumers — two-thirds of the revenue generated from auctioning carbon allowances in the utilities sector.”
As Joseph Romm of Climate Progress explains:
You might call it cap-and-dividend, were the name not taken.
Yes, much of this money goes back to consumers through the local regulated utilities, but that was not only inevitable from a political perspective — to keep utilities and senators from the Midwest and South from immediately bolting — it’s actually a good idea from the perspective of regional equity. There’s just no other way to construct a bill that could have any chance whatsoever in either house of Congress.
But not all the goodies would go to We the People. Jeanne Cummings of Politico reviews the boatload of incentives in the bill for the nuclear, coal, and natural-gas industries, among others.
The bill also contains a sweetener for senators who like their beaches free of oily patina: a provision that would let states put the kibosh on federal drilling up to 75 miles from their shores.
If you feel a compelling need to parse words or just have a lot of down time, you can read the whole bill for yourself [PDF]. Or check out summaries on Kerry’s site. Brad Johnson of Wonk Room has a handy chart comparing the bill to Obama’s campaign proposals and the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill. Or if you’re having attention-deficit issues today, get just the highlights from a Reuters Factbox.
On bling and a prayer
The big question, of course, is whether, even with all its bling and baubles, the bill has any chance of passage this year.
Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones isn’t sure that the new provisions will be enough to win back diehard anti-drillers like Florida’s Ben Nelson (D).
Grist’s David Roberts thinks the bill actually has a shot, but would definitely need help from a higher power:
[F]or public opinion to crystallize and become a serious force, it must be echoed, amplified, and directed by the only politician most Americans still trust: Barack Obama. I’ve said this before and it remains true: The only way this thing gets done is if Obama lays himself on the line for it.
Kevin Drum, also over at Mother Jones, isn’t holding his breath awaiting Obama drama. “I think climate change legislation is dead,” he writes, arguing that there’s just not enough time this year to push it through. He continues:
As for Obama, who knows? But my take is pretty simple: if there’s one thing that Obama has demonstrated for us over and over again, it’s the fact that he’s pretty sensitive to the political tea leaves. He doesn’t tilt at windmills, and he certainly doesn’t ask members of his own party to take seat-threatening risks shortly before an election in service of a lost cause. It’s just not his style.
Will Obama prove him wrong? Stay tuned to find out.