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A Pared-Down, Oil-Friendly Senate Energy Bill to Be Released Monday

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Updated: Over the weekend the planned unveiling of the bill on Monday was put on hold. Read more about what happened here.

Just don’t call it a cap and trade program. That’s what three Senators — John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman — are trying to avoid when they introduce a pared down Senate energy bill, reportedly as soon as Monday. The Senate bill would only implement a cap and trade program for electricity-producing utilities initially, reports Bloomberg, though it won’t be called that because cap and trade has “become a dirty word.”

The not-to-be-named cap and trade program would exempt manufacturers until 2016, and will not include the agriculture industry. Oil companies would have to obtain some kind of pollution permits but they won’t be trading on the carbon market like other emitters (still unclear what’s going on there), reports Mother Jones. Bloomberg explains it as the oil industry would get “free pollution allowances that would expire by a certain date, after which allowances would have to be purchased.”

Another big kicker is that the bill would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act, and would not enable states to set harsher emissions standards than the federal government, says Mothers Jones. States like California are not going to be happy about that one (I’ll ask California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown what he would do about this at our Green:Net conference on April 29).

Three out of the five major oil companies are supporting the bill, reports Mother Jones. The reported Senate bill represents a significant compromise and paring back to the Waxman Markey bill — or the The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 — that the House passed back in June, and which called for a industry-wide, national, cap and trade system.

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