The Climate Bill: 5 things you need to know

The new Senate climate bill includes electric cars, offshore drilling, new nuclear plants, and much, much more—here's a brief overview

Under "cap and trade," companies with larger carbon footprints can buy "credits" from more eco-friendly ones.
(Image credit: Corbis)

After months of wrangling, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) finally unveiled a climate bill this week that they hope will be put to a vote before November. The third member of the bill's "tripartisan" team, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), publicly dropped his support for it in a spat over immigration reform last month, and has predicted little GOP support for the bill. (Watch a Fox Business report detailing the climate bill.) For those who lack the stamina to absorb the 1,000-page bill, here are five headline measures:

1. Cut carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050

The bill sets aggressive new targets to reduce emissions from 2005 levels, and lays out a complex strategy for acheiving them—including setting an escalating price on carbon emissions from power plants and large factories, and investing heavily in green energy.

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2. Expand offshore drilling—but allow states to opt out

As Obama announced in April, the bill includes provisions to expand offshore drilling in U.S. waters, boosting domestic oil production. However, in the wake of the catastrophic BP spill, the bill allows individual states to ban oil drilling within 75 miles of their coastlines.

3. Invest $7 billion annually in 'clean' transportation

Kerry and Lieberman are seeking to green up the transportation sector, with $7 billion a year directed toward public transit, highway improvements, and incentives to expand the use of electric cars.

4. Fund and develop nuclear power

Energy firms hoping to build nuclear power stations would benefit from construction tax breaks, an easier and faster planning process, and $54 billion in loan guarantees. Twelve nuclear plants under construction would receive $500 million in risk insurance in case of delays.

5. Introduce a 'cap-and-trade' system with built-in safeguards

The bill would introduce a "cap-and-trade" system that limits America's total emissions (that cap will decline over time), and enables companies with lower carbon emissions to sell "credits" to heavier pollutors. Tight regulation would prevent Wall Street speculators from participating in the market for carbon credits.

Sources: Time, Politico, CNN, Reuters

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