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Senate trio trots out new climate change bill, AFBF withholds judgment

March 18, 2010

U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-Mass), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) briefed business groups including AFBF on a climate change proposal that includes provisions for nuclear energy and off shore drilling, as well as a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and a price on carbon.

The tri-partisan trio has been working on a climate change bill since it appeared that the House cap and trade bill (H.R. 2454) wasn’t going to fly in the upper chamber.   The New York Times  provided some details from the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman proposal.

According to several sources in the meeting room, the bill will call for greenhouse gas curbs across multiple economic sectors, with a target of reducing emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Power plant emissions would be regulated in 2012, with other major industrial sources phased in starting in 2016.

In a bow to industry demands, the senators’ proposal would pre-empt U.S. EPA climate regulations under the Clean Air Act and halt dozens of state climate laws and regulations now on the books. Also, only facilities that release 25,000 tons per year of greenhouse gases must participate in the climate program.

The Times reported that an energy only bill remains in the mix.  That bill includes a renewable electricity standard and off-shore drilling but no carbon cap.

AFBF climate specialist Paul Schlegel was at the briefing and said Farm Bureau would withhold judgment on the bill.

We appreciate the outreach.  We appreciate the opportunity to get our concerns in there.  We are going to continue to cooperate and make suggestions where we can and then we’re going to evaluate it when we get the language. But when you price carbon, you’re doing a couple of things: Number one, you’re raising energy costs.  That will have a negative impact on agriculture.  And when you have a trading program and you’re creating a commodity which is going to be carbon which will have a value, if we are creating values for people to plant trees, that could cause the loss of up to 50 to 7 0 million acres of productive ag land, those are two very big concerns we have.

Congress Daily reported that the bill would slap a tax on gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. 

Lieberman acknowledged at the meeting that gas prices will go up and that “there’s going to be a political cost to that,” said one official inside the room.  But Lieberman said the intent is to change consumer behavior, the official said.

The sponsors are shooting to introduce their bill April 15.

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