Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) have introduced in the Senate comprehensive climate change-related legislation that includes two measures: a Climate Protection Act which would impose fees on major greenhouse gas emitters and a Sustainable Energy Act that would end subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
"From 2002 through 2008, Federal fossil-fuel subsidies in the United States totaled over $72,000,000,000, while Federal renewable-energy investments totaled $12,200,000,000," the bill states.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the proposed legislation would raise more than $1 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade. Sanders said the Climate Protection Act contains an intriguing provision. "To protect families from fossil fuel companies jacking up prices, 60% of the carbon fee revenue will be rebated, per capita, to every legal US resident."
The bill would impose a fee on carbon pollution emissions by the fewer than 3,000 entities that account for 85% of the nation's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For the first year, the fee would be $20 per ton of carbon dioxide content of the carbon polluting substance. The fee would rise by 5.6% per year for the next ten years.
The bill would also require companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and disclose the chemicals they use in the fracking process.
The measure is expected to face stiff opposition in Congress, but as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer will be in a position to hold hearings. Sanders is also a member of the Committee.
"The President can and must use his authority to cut down on power plant pollution, and reject the dangerous Keystone XL project," Sanders said. "But he cannot give up on a comprehensive legislative solution, and neither can we. We will never fully deal with this crisis until Congress passes strong legislation."
The measures include the weatherization of one million homes per year; tripling the budget of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds renewable energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment; and encouraging private investment in renewable energy through a public-private Sustainable Technologies Fund.