Senate climate bill calls for a 20% cut in CO2

The Senate climate bill sets a more aggressive schedule for carbon dioxide emissions cuts than legislation passed by the House, but leaves out details about how to distribute valuable pollution allowances.
 
The initial draft is expected to be released publicly by the Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday, but a nearly completed draft was in wide circulation on K Street and elsewhere in Washington by Tuesday morning.
 

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The bill calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 20 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, compared with the 17 percent reduction called for in a version sponsored in the House by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.). President Barack Obama had called for a 14 percent cut by 2020.
 
The other targets, including the 83 percent reduction by 2050, are the same in both Senate and House versions.
 
As expected, the draft, which is being sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), did not allocate allowances that companies need to acquire to cover their emissions. Those details will be left to a markup later in October. The Senate Finance Committee will also address that issue, sometime after it’s done with healthcare reform.
 
The allowances are expected to be worth tens of billions of dollars a year, and there is a fierce lobbying struggle over how they will be distributed over various industrial sectors.
 
The cap-and-trade bill sets up a market in which companies can buy and sell allowances as their needs require to meet emissions reduction targets. During the first years of the program, the government will distribute a majority of the necessary emissions for free.