Senators reveal Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

By Anna Austin
Posted September 30, 2009, at 5:10 p.m. CST

Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., have unveiled the first draft of legislation which requires emissions be reduced to 97 percent of 2005 levels by 2012, 80 percent by 2020, and 17 percent by 2050, through implementation of a Pollution Reduction and Investment system.

In the House, the bill was titled the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and is now the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

The PRI system detailed in the act is based on the bipartisan plan that reduced acid rain in the 1990s, and would establish a market-based system to meet the reduction targets. The system would apply only to the largest polluters in the country-initially, around 7,500 facilities, which account for nearly three‐quarters of U.S. carbon pollution, or facilities emitting over 25,000 tons of carbon pollution annually. According to the draft, more than 98 percent of American businesses (office buildings, apartments, homes, shopping malls) and all farmers would not be covered by the PRI system.

Instead of using a "command and control" model in which the government instructs companies where and how to reduce pollution, major polluters will be required to turn in one carbon credit, which the draft describes as "a voucher for the right to pollute one ton of carbon." The vouchers can be bought or sold to provide flexibility in how pollution is reduced. Therefore, those that cannot quickly or affordably reduce emissions can buy vouchers. Companies who are able may sell their vouchers to those that need them.

The PRI system would also limit the total number of vouchers available in a given year, lowering the number each year.

Other provisions of the bill include but are not limited to:

A new federal program that encourages investment in low-carbon power generation
Grants to cities and states that embrace clean energy, and substantial investments to reward cities and states for investing in renewable energy, energy efficient retrofits and building upgrades
Significant new investments in cutting-edge research and development funding for renewable energy resources
Support for energy intensive, trade-exposed industries such as chemicals to ensure U.S. manufacturing remains competitive in the new energy economy.
Rebates for low and moderate income consumers on energy bills to help offset any increased costs

To access the bill in full, go to