The long-awaited climate bill was released by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The bill raised the goal for greenhouse gas emission reductions from the Waxman-Markey 17 percent to 20 percent (based on a 2005 baseline) and in most ways follows the Waxman-Markey approach, but the authors Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry left the key issue of allocation versus auction for further debate in the Senate Finance Committee. That committee is of course working on the health care bill.
In essence, Senators Boxer and Kerry "punted" on this issue and are leaving the concerns of industry to obtain higher levels of free credits through allocation and to reduce those that must be auctioned to the Finance Committee. This may be a good sign for industry as there may be a better chance for negotiations under Senator Max Baucus' tutelage. Mr. Kerry serves on that committee, but is not in charge as chairman.
The climate bill is now clearly set behind the health care bill and will not likely be reviewed by the Finance Committee until that bill is passed or defeated in the Senate. A vote before the United Nations meeting on a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen seems less likely, although Senator Kerry promises that a vote on a bill will occur in advance of this meeting.