WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) highlighted several of his priorities that were incorporated in a revised version of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009, released today by Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The EPW Committee plans to consider this legislation in the coming weeks.
Specifically, Sen. Carper, chairman of the subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, applauded the inclusion of language for clean electricity produced from coal; a new approach to addressing transportation’s contribution to climate change; a thoughtful recognition of the role of nuclear energy; and meaningful incentives for recycling activities that reduce greenhouse gases.
“A majority of the senators on the EPW Committee have a common goal. We are working together to pass a bill that will create jobs, make America more energy independent, and protect our children from dangerous pollution. I am encouraged by many things included in the Chairman’s Mark that was released today, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve it even more as we start our hearings on the bill early next week,” Sen. Carper said.
Clean Electricity from Coal
The Chairman’s Mark includes a compromise structured on the recommendations of the ad-hoc clean coal working group led by Sen. Carper.
The clean coal working group brought together representatives of the U.S. coal industry, senators from all regions of the country and environmental groups, who worked constructively to develop a responsible proposal to ensure clean coal technology is deployed in the next decade and that coal is a long-term, viable clean energy source in the U.S.
This compromise will ensure the early deployment of carbon capture and storage technology and ensure significant reductions in CO2 emissions from the next generation coal-fired utilities. Furthermore, it will ensure that meaningful environmental protections are in place as this new technology is deployed.
“Coal is, and will be, an important source of energy for some time. Our responsibility is to be smart about how we turn it into electricity. The provisions developed by senators both on and off the EPW Committee – and more importantly, among senators from both coal and non-coal states – send a strong message that consensus can be achieved to pass strong clean energy legislation that takes into account regional differences,” said Sen. Carper. “In a good faith negotiation, no side gets everything it wants. But our clean coal group reached compromises that reflect the priorities of different parts of the country, and that will help move the climate bill forward through the EPW Committee.”
Reducing Greenhouse Gases from Transportation
The Chairman’s Mark includes language from Sen. Carper’s CLEAN TEA legislation (S.575) to reward state and local governments with federal funds based on how much they reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Today, the transportation sector is responsible for nearly a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, so Sen. Carper believes that even the most effective climate change legislation cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to turn the tide on global warming unless it also addresses the transportation sector.
“My CLEAN TEA bill is a common-sense solution to the problem that we use a gas tax to fund our nation’s transportation system,” said Sen. Carper. “My language in the Chairman’s Mark directs cities and states to determine how much they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their transportation systems by investing in driving alternatives, public transit, intercity passenger rail, transit-oriented development, sidewalks and more. States and cities with more ambitious plans will receive more federal funds – finally rewarding local governments for doing the right thing.”
The Chairman’s Mark establishes a performance-based grant program at the Department of Transportation to reward the states and cities that create the best plans to reduce emissions, and it provides dedicated funding for transit.
Sen. Carper also applauded Chairman Boxer for including 3 percent of allowances to build more public transportation, intercity passenger rail, freight rail, and finance implementation of smart growth strategies. This is a three-fold increase over the amount provided in the Waxman-Markey bill and will provide thousands of American jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and congestion, and improve the livability of our communities.
A Role for Nuclear Energy
As co-chair of Senate nuclear caucus, Sen. Carper convened meetings earlier this year to determine how nuclear energy could play a bigger role in the climate debate. Based on these meetings, Sen. Carper worked closely with Sens. Kerry and Boxer to include a nuclear energy title in the Kerry-Boxer bill.
The Kerry-Boxer bill and the Chairman’s Mark both establish a long-term research and development program to pursue dramatic improvements in a range of nuclear spent fuel management options, including short-term and long-term storage and disposal, and proliferation-resistant recycling.
Both bills also establish a research and development program to improve safety and performance of existing nuclear power plants and to study the feasibility of plant use up to and beyond 60- and 80-year operating periods. Sen. Carper continues to champion a program to study the technical basis for renewing licenses beyond the current term.
The Chairman’s Mark also includes funds to recruit and train the next generation of nuclear workers. The nuclear industry represents thousands of high quality, well-paid jobs that will benefit Delaware and the nation as a whole.
“Safe, clean nuclear energy is the single largest provider of low-carbon electricity, and this bill provides robust support for the industry. It is vital that we keep our current emissions-free nuclear fleet operating in the years to come, safely, efficiently and economically,” said Sen. Carper. “I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we can agree on a strong nuclear section in the climate bill that appropriately supports nuclear energy’s role in the climate debate.”
Sen. Carper will continue to work with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) to make the nuclear provisions in the bill even stronger.
Increased Incentives For Recycling
Unlike the House climate change bill, the Chairman’s Mark includes language supported by Sen. Carper to authorize funds for pilot recycling programs in cities and communities across the nation.
“Recycling is a way that every American household and business can contribute to our environmental sustainability. It significantly reduces the energy needed to manufacture products, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also creates jobs,” said Sen. Carper. “As founder and co-chairman of the Senate recycling caucus, I am proud that the Chairman’s Mark continues to remove impediments to recycling and promotes recycling practices that are both environmentally sustainable and economically viable.”