As I yesterday,Barbara Boxer and John Kerry have released their piece of climate legislation, The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act(full text). If you aren’t up for the heavy reading, here is an overview, a summary, and a section by section summary. Here is a press release about the legislation. Below is an op-ed John Kerry has out in Politico about why we need to pass this bill.
A new path for energy use
For decades, politicians have talked about the importance of ending America’s addiction to oil and investing in energy that is made in America and that works for America — from coal and nuclear to solar and wind.
But with the Clean Jobs and American Power Act, which we are introducing Wednesday, we at last have an opportunity to put our country on that path — a path more critical because of the urgent threat of global climate change.
The Clean Jobs and American Power Act is aimed at no less than the reinvention of the way America produces and uses energy. It will be a challenge, but America has never shied away from a challenge before.
Reinventing the way we use energy can also be the cornerstone for decades of economic growth and a stronger, more powerful America. Today, 15 million Americans are out of work. We send $1 billion per day overseas to feed our oil addiction. Scientists and generals warn that climate change caused by carbon pollution threatens our health and our national security. Each of these factors weakens America.
Rarely have we faced so many challenges, but rarely have so many challenges also culminated in such an enormous opportunity — an opportunity to put millions of Americans back to work, to invest in homegrown innovation and to protect our children’s health and our environment.
The Clean Jobs and American Power Act takes a comprehensive approach to meeting our energy challenge head on.
It sets ambitious carbon pollution reduction targets, creates powerful new incentives for companies to find the most cost-efficient ways to meet them and makes historic new investments in technology and efficiency that will improve every sector of our energy economy. And it does not raise the deficit by one single dime.
Based on the successful bipartisan plan that reduced acid rain, a market-based pollution reduction and investment system will set ambitious yearly targets. It will reduce carbon pollution 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, a decrease that scientists consider the minimum necessary to avert a climate disaster.
This system is tough on corporate pollution, taking aim at America’s largest polluters: those emitting 25,000 tons of carbon each year. The 7,500 facilities covered in 2012 — mostly power plants, industrial facilities and petroleum and petrochemical operations — account for nearly three-quarters of America’s carbon emissions. Farmers and nearly all small business are exempt. More than 98 percent of all American businesses fall below the threshold.
The bill is designed to offer big polluters options: Those that need more time to clean up their emissions can pay for the continued right to pollute. Those companies that decrease pollution quickly and affordably stand to profit.
This bill creates powerful new market incentives for developing clean energy and improving energy efficiency. Americans invented the technologies behind wind and solar energy, but countries like China and Germany have surged ahead of us. This bill provides new funding for research and deployment to make us the world leaders once again.
Every dollar spent on clean energy creates nearly four times as many jobs as a dollar invested in oil and gas. These are good-paying, regionally diverse jobs for American workers of all educational backgrounds — and best of all, they can’t be shipped overseas.
As we transition to this new energy future, we need game-changing investments and improvements throughout our entire energy system. We can’t afford to ignore any homegrown energy resources. Because coal will remain an important part of America’s economy, we must help the coal industry reinvent itself — that includes rewards for installing new technology to capture and store carbon pollution before it reaches the air we breathe.
Natural gas will receive similar incentives to increase cost-effectiveness and galvanize technological advances. We will also make the investment in research, development and worker training needed to build the next generation of American nuclear power plants.
Of course, the cleanest and cheapest kilowatt of energy is the one you never use. More than 1,000 U.S. cities have adopted tough environmental standards for new construction and for refitting existing buildings. We respond to the urgent requests of our governors and mayors by funding these efforts.
As our energy economy races ahead, no one should be left behind.
This bill protects everyday consumers. Rebates on monthly electric bills will ensure that energy remains affordable for low- and middle-income families. And a new market-based mechanism will kick in as needed to keep prices stable.
This bill also includes targeted protection for our manufacturing sector, to ensure that American companies remain competitive and keep jobs here at home. New programs will train workers to succeed in the new clean energy economy.
We can do all those things, and more, to make America safer and stronger. But only if we reinvent the way America uses energy.
It won’t be easy. For too long, Washington let Big Oil and special interests stand between us and our goals. This has hurt our economy, helped our enemies and risked our security. But the time has come to put America back in control, and the Clean Jobs and American Power Act at last turns rhetoric into reality and puts us on that path.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and the lead sponsor of The Clean Jobs and American Power Act.