The full-text of the amendment [PDF] to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act is now available, which answers some of the outstanding questions stemming from the outline Sen. Boxer has been circulating. A few important areas to look at in the new version:
Cost containment: This is the mechanism, also called an “emergency off-ramp,” that will automatically release additional emission allowances onto the market to lower the price of carbon credits, should prices reach a certain level. The full text of the bill states that the initial range in which that mechanism could be triggered is “no lower than $22 and no higher than $30” in 2012. From 2013 through 2027, the price will be previous year’s trigger multiplied by the sum of the annual rate of inflation and 1.05. (If you’re thinking “WTF?” you’re not alone.) These additional credits would be auctioned, and the proceeds would be used for direct emissions reductions. This is the part of the legislation likely to give greens the biggest coronary. Though it’s short of a “safety valve,” some groups have already expressed concern that this trigger is too low.
Renewables: It also appears that there is less money specifically directed at renewable energy in the new version of the bill, though the sizable increase in funding to state and local entities is expected to cover that — so it’s more of a reallocation than a reduction, in theory.
Handouts: Within the full text, the amounts of money that go to specific areas — like consumer tax relief, funds to local electricity and gas utilities, worker training programs, etc. — are broken down as percentages of the total revenue from auction. The figures in the document Boxer released yesterday breaks them down in dollar figures, as projected by the EPA’s analysis of the bill. The accuracy of those figures, of course, depends on the accuracy of the EPA’s projections about the costs of carbon credits.
Twenty major green groups, including the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, issued a joint statement following the release of the new version of the bill, noting that while the bill has been improved, it should still be strengthened further on the floor.
“We express our appreciation to Senator Boxer for her leadership on the Climate Security Act and for working so hard and having brought this bill so far,” reads their official statement. “The best chance for progress this year on federal global warming pollution limits is for the Senate to strengthen and pass the Climate Security Act. The bill needs to be strengthened to ensure that it will meet the reductions that science dictates are needed to prevent dangerous global warming.”
We’ll have more on the amendment soon, and there will be plenty more climate legislation drama in the weeks to come.