Sens. Sanders, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and eight supporters kicked off the global warming debate in the Senate Wednesday with a rally releasing their comprehensive climate bill.
"Countries around the world have asked ‘Where is the United States of America in helping us lead the fight against global warming?' Today, we are back. And we are going to lead the offensive," Sen. Sanders said at an event to roll out major climate change legislation. "We are going to make this bill stronger. People are going to say ‘Thank you America for taking us in a new direction.'"
The legislation sets a 20 percent emission reduction target by 2020, over 2005 levels. The House bill set the target at 17 percent. The legislation also retains the Environmental Protection Agency's authority under the Clean Air Act to clean up the oldest and dirtiest power plants.
"We are going to continue to back sustainability, we are going to cut back substantially on green house gas emissions, and, in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression, we have the potential to create millions of good-paying jobs," he said.
Sanders, chairman of the Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer, and others at a news conference Wednesday to introduce their Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. In June, the House of Representatives passed similar legislation sponsored by Reps. Waxman and Markey.
Provisions authored by Sen. Sanders include:
- Long-term funding for the Sanders-Menendez Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, which funds cities, counties, and towns to do energy efficiency projects. (pages 785, 793-794)
- Long-term funding, through the states, for district energy and combined heat and power. This provision is based on legislation Sanders introduced with Sen. Merkley as a co-sponsor, S. 1621, the Thermal Energy Efficiency Act. This legislation is supported by the US Clean Heat and Power Association, Biomass Energy Resource Center, International District Energy Association, Sustainable Northwest, and Biomass Thermal Energy Council. (pages 791-792)
- Long-term funding for utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as large-scale wind and solar thermal power plants. (pages 785-786)
- Limits international offsets to half a billion tons per year (the House bill allowed for 1 billion tons per year). This means we are more likely to see emissions reduction and sustainable energy projects in the U.S. instead of outsourcing our emission reduction obligation to other countries. (pages 451-452)
- Funding for Department of Transportation to coordinate a plan to deploy electric vehicle recharging stations across highway and road corridors. It also provides funding for pilot demonstration projects, including in rural areas. This is based on Sanders' Transportation Low Emissions Energy Plan (LEEP) 2020 (S.1721). (pages 779-783)
- Funding for the Sanders-Clinton Green Jobs Act (pages 798-799).
- Ten percent of the funds the states will receive shall be based on how energy efficient they are, which gives states like Vermont that are already leading on efficiency an incentive to do more. (pages 784-785)
Carbon market assurance principles, including language
Sanders authored requiring strong aggregate position limits and margin requirements
to ensure the bill does not allow excessive speculation by Wall Street (p. 754).
For more information or to read the bill itself, click here.