Senate Climate Bill: Similar to the House, But Tougher . . . Good Luck!

As expected the Senate version of the climate bill, which passed the house back in June, will soon be released from the Environment and Public Works Committee, and various media outlets have gotten a chance to look at a 684-page draft version of the bill before it’s officially been introduced. (Greenwire, via The New York Times, has a draft of the bill available for download here). The official draft is supposed to be released on Thursday during a press conference in Washington DC, and introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).

The consensus so far: the Senate version is very similar to the House version, but a bit tougher. According to the Associated Press and GreenWire, the Senate version is asking for a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, compared to the 17 percent cut by 2020 in the House bill. The longer-term cuts of 83 percent lower emissions by 2050 are the same for both bills, so the Senate version simply calls for a faster ramp up at first.

In addition, according to GreenWire, the Senate version of the bill doesn’t stop the EPA from factoring in greenhouse gas emissions from “indirect land use changes” for the national biofuels mandate. The House version did incorporate language barring the EPA from taking that into consideration for at least 6 years.

Given that the process in the Senate is more complicated and that the bill is expected to see more opposition there (see David Roberts’ smart take on what to look for), we’re not that optimistic on this tougher version getting passed before the Copenhagen international climate negotiations in early December.

Of course, like the House bill, the Senate bill includes a cap and trade system, but doesn’t yet specify how the allowances will be distributed — one of the biggest points of contention over the House bill. The Senate bill that will be released tomorrow could also have some new provisions, and it’s already 800 pages long, says GreenWire. If you get a chance to read the draft, or the official version tomorrow, give us your thoughts.