On Wednesday, September 30th Climate Change Legislation (formerly known as cap and trade) was introduced by Sens Barbara Boxer and John Kerry calling for a 20% emissions cut by year 2020, tougher than the 17% cut the House bill that passed in June called for and a greater than 80% cut by 2050.
Although the bill calls for steeper initial emissions cut than the House measure, it also makes it easier for companies to comply by expanding the definition of what qualifies as a 'carbon offset'.
An offset is an investment in a program that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Many details were left out of the initial draft, including how to divvy up emissions allowances that will be worth tens of billions of dollars a year.
Responsibility for that, rests with the Senate Finance Committee, (now marking up the Baucus
The measure was immediately criticized by Republians as an energy tax that threatens jobs. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA) called its requirements 'a disappointing step in the wrong direction'.
Obama said that release of the draft bill moves the country 'one step closer to putting America in control of our energy future and making America more energy independent'.
Boxer said her legislation 'address the major challenges of our generation' by curbing pollutions. creating new green jobs and reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. Boxer noted it's inclusion of a 'soft' collar that creates both a floor and ceiling for emission allowance costs to both spur investment in cleaner technologies and ease fears among businesses that energy prices will grow too high under the carbon cap.