Coming Courtesy of Uncle Sam, a Carbon-Dividend Check [UPDATE 2]

UPDATE 2 | 6:07 PM: Tony Kreindler at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in Washington notes the legislation that ends up being debated on the Senate floor will have elements of the different bills now circulating: The Kerry – Lieberman – Graham framework; Senator Jeff Bingaman‘s (D-N.M.) proposal and now the Cantwell – Collins legislation. Who gets to edit these different bills into a single legislation? “The folks that have the pen are Kerry, Lieberman and Graham,” says Kreindler.

Jesse Jenkins at the Breakthrough Institute emailed us this comment about CLEAR:

The new CLEAR bill has advantages over other cap and trade proposals, but at its heart it is still essentially a pollution reduction strategy. What our nation needs more is a proactive clean economy strategy that can help American industries, innovators and entrepreneurs compete with the intense clean tech competition we’re seeing from Asia’s rising clean technology tigers – China, South Korea and Japan – and our traditional competitors in the EU.

UPDATE | 5:01 PM: The Cantwell – Collins Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act, in effect proposes what seems to be a “cap-and-trade light”. CO2 would still be priced but only power utilities and energy producers would be able to buy and sell (in a secondary market) these emission permits. There was apparently concern amongst some Senate members that the sort of massive carbon market created by a cap-and-trade could encourage fraud and market manipulations, paving the way for more financial debacle.

Apparently, according to one source, work on CLEAR began this summer, shortly after the House passed Waxman – Markey, out of concern that there would not be 60 votes for a climate change bill with a cap-and-trade provision.

A spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute tells us that they are reading the bill, declining further comment.

The U.S. Senate is not expected to start debating its version of the climate change bill until early next year but already alternatives  to the legislation’s controversial cap-and-trade provision are being floated around, the AP reports.

One proposal, just released today by Sen. Maria Cantwell, (D-Wash.), and Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine), would have the government sell pollution allowances to carbon-dependent industries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But while in the current cap-and-trade provisions proceeds would be largely be partly reinvested to support clean energy, the Cantwell / Collins proposal would use  a lot of the proceeds to send checks to every American, each check averaging about $100, to help offset the expected higher cost of energy in a carbon-constrained world.

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