The American Power Act has been released in draft form for discussion in the Senate. Originally to be sponsored by three senators, the bill - now sponsored by two - aims to be a comprehensive approach to energy and climate change issues.
Senators John Kerry, D-Mass.; and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; are the final sponsors of the measure - a third Senator, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. - was involved in the legislation but abandoned the effort last month. Graham has been quoted saying the bill stands no chance of passage given the oil spill and Senate Democrats' new focus on immigration reform.
The Kerry-Lieberman bill, which was released even as the country continues to deal with the off-shore oil spill, does include provisions for continued off-shore drilling. However, the measure also includes a range of other initiatives aimed at reducing energy use and dropping the amount of carbon released in the atmosphere.
The measure has several key provisions on different areas of energy and climate management. Provisions cover nuclear plants, carbon sequestration, electric vehicle infrastructure, research and development, green jobs, and natural gas.
The carbon sequestration provision requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish a task force within 180 days of the law's enactment. The task force of experts, representatives of non-governmental organizations, academics, state and tribal officials, and a host of others is to work on developing a national strategy on the issue. The bill also directs the EPA administrator to establish a task force to study existing laws, regulatory frameworks and private sector mechanisms to assess their applicability to risk management, financial responsibilities and environmental liabilities.
It is this area of the bill farmers should keep an eye on. The carbon sequestration provisions offer potential for new ways farmers can take part in this renewed energy economy.
You can check out the key provisions of the bill from Sen. Kerry's website, just check out American Power Act. You'll also find out about the other provisions of the bill in this key summary.
In a statement issues by the National Corn Grower Association, President Darrin Ihnen notes the organization is reviewing the discussion draft of the bill. "We have provided input to the Senate over the past several months on provisions pertaining to the agriculture industry and we will continue to offer feedback after we have a chance to review the text of this important piece of legislation," he notes.
A previous attempt at energy legislation - known as the Waxman-Markey bill in the House - was not supported by NCGA. Ihnen notes there were concerns about negative impacts on farmers from that measure. "In light of that we will once again conduct an analysis of the new Senate version of climate legislation before taking a position on the Kerry-Lieberman proposal. We will also wait for the official analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency in the coming weeks."