30 September 2009

and On the Senate Side

Boxer-Kerry Unveil Their Energy Tax Bill: Incomplete But Still Very Harmful

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Senate companion to the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation today and while many pieces are missing, the framework in place spells bad news for every American energy consumer, especially low income ones.

Like Waxman-Markey, the focus is a cap and trade system, but takes the House bill’s 17 percent reduction of 2005 emissions by 2020 to a more stringent 20 percent cut. Unlike the House version, which gives away emission allowances to special interests groups that lobbied hard to protect their bottom line, the Senate draft does not include how the emission allowances – hundreds of billions of dollars - will be given away.

Co-sponsor Senator Kerry tells us, “This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it’s a pollution reduction bill.” But the simple reality is it’s an energy tax bill. As OMB director Peter Orszag says, “Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices.” And the bill’s incompleteness goes to show how impatiently Kerry and Boxer are trying to move a historic energy tax into law.

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