What Will Be in the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Climate Bill?

A compromise Senate energy bill being hammered out by “little punk staffers” for Senators John Kerry (D), Lindsey Graham (R), and Joe Lieberman (I), is expected to be introduced sometime before Earth Day, which is April 22. The bill, known as KGL, is expected to make a splash; it’s the most bipartisan piece of big legislation in Congress right now (Graham has pretty solid GOP credentials), which means it’s going to piss off everybody.


But what’s in it? The Senators are publicly hush-hush, but potential tidbits have been leaking to the media and I’ve tried to sop up as much of them as I can and present them to you. None of these are definite.

Putting a Muzzle on the EPA

When Lisa Jackson of the EPA announced the agency would regulate greenhouse gas emissions, many in Congress, including some Democrats, blew CO2 out their ears. They saw the move as regulatory overreach by a non-elected body that would have a profound effect on the economy.

The KGL bill could include language which strips the EPA of the power to regulate greenhouse gases. “We are likely to have language in [the KGL] bill that says this regime is the sole regime to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the EPA does not have authority under the clean air act to do it,” Patrick Von Bargen of Quinn Gillespie & Associates told E&ETV.

Lieberman told the New York Times stripping the EPA of its power on ghgs is necessary to lure swing votes. Needless to say this one of the most controversial (potential) parts of the bill.

Expanding Drilling — Beyond Obama

Graham has said President Obama’s controversial decision to expand off-shore drilling was not expansive enough, according to The Hill. Expanding drilling even more than Obama proposed is one way to draw more Republicans to the bill. Senate Minority Leader John Boehner said Obama didn’t go far enough, but he complains about everything (see “little punk staffers” comment above). I would be grumpy too if my last name was “Boehner.”


A cap-and-trade system for electric utilties, with other sectors being phased in, could be part of the bill, despite the beating the concept has taken recently. Watch for it under another name like “cap-and-dividend” or “marketed based mechanism” or something like that.

Reduced Emissions

It is a climate bill after all. The current numbers floating around are 17/2005/2020 — 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. California, by contrast, has targeted a decrease of ghgs to 1990 levels by 2020.

More Nukes

Everyone wants more nuclear power, even some environmentalists. They’re much safer now, so they say.

Fee on Gasoline

A fee would be placed on refined motor fuels, which the oil industry could then pass on to consumers — and blame the government for the higher costs.


Likely there will be some sort of renewable energy standard, or as it is known on the state level Renewable Portfolio Standard, requiring a certain amount of electricity be generated by renewable energy, this according to The Wonk Room.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

2 responses

Leave a Reply