On Thursday April 15, details of the upcoming climate change bill sponsored by Democrat Senator John Kerry, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was leaked to the media prior to an official announcement. Graham is also a co-sponsor of proposed legislation to stop attempts by the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.
This bill centers around recent plans by the EPA to regulate the emissions of carbon and regional cap and trade programs.
The possibly of preemption of current state and regional cap and trade laws is being discussed. This is generally considered to be positive by industry.
Similarly, business leaders have expressed concerns that a patchwork of different state emissions trading schemes and carbon regulations was resulting in an onerous compliance burden for larger firms. The Senate source told Reuters that under the proposed bill states would still be allowed to impose their own energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, but they would no longer be able to operate regional cap-and-trade schemes.
“We believe there should be one uniform congressional policy on greenhouse gases — not state by state, not overlapping with other environmental requirements — one program,” the industry official said.
The most frequent positive comment from industrial groups are the desire for uniformity of regulation.
However, some Democrats in Congress are not happy with this possiblity.
“I don’t think it should pre-empt EPA from anything,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees EPA’s budget.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that EPA and state pre-emption would certainly be factors he considers when deciding whether to vote for the bill. “There are a lot of states that are out on this already, and a lot depends on my perception of whether we’re undercutting their efforts and how rigorous our process is,” Whitehouse said.
Other potential impacts of the legislation include not allowing greenhouse gas emissions as toxic and establishing permissible limits which is consistent with the energy bill that passed the the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last year.