It also sets new fees for some oil and gas wells, and curtails a program that allows royalty-free production in deep Gulf of Mexico waters.
Elsewhere, the bill would create a new system of tax incentives for low-carbon electricity and transportation-fuel production that would streamline the existing patchwork of credits, creating a more flexible system that’s based on the level of emissions cuts. (Those two provisions are similar to a green-tax overhaul that then-Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus floated in late 2013.) Other tax provisions would overhaul and extend incentives for energy-efficient homes and buildings.
Democrats are also dusting off a long-standing plan to mandate more energy savings in the power system. The bill would require that electric and natural-gas utilities cut energy use by 20 percent by 2030. This “Energy Efficiency Resource Standard” would save consumers $150 billion over the next 15 years, an estimate of the measure’s effects states.
As for the 2 percent annual carbon-cutting target, if met, it would enable at least a 30 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2025, given that U.S. emissions are already down about 10 percent over the last decade. (They’ve ticked back up slightly in 2013 and 2014.) However, Cantwell’s office estimates that the entire bill, if implemented, would cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by a total of 34 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The Obama administration, in a landmark climate agreement with China last year and in a more recent commitment to the United Nations, has pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels.
The big bill contains a wide array of other measures in topics including improving cybersecurity; improving energy infrastructure such as natural-gas distribution systems; modernizing the electric grid and enabling it to handle more green-energy sources; boosting R&D into greener cars and trucks; and much more.
Overall, it proposes to triple funding for basic energy science and technology R&D, Democrats said.
Cantwell, speaking to reporters in the Capitol, noted that Democrats are floating the plan ahead of the visit by Pope Francis and President Obama’s meetings late this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which are also expected to address climate change.
“We have two big visitors coming to Washington, D.C. this week to express their views on it, and we think that America’s plan ought to be put on the table,” she said.
The measure also arrives as Democrats are battling GOP efforts to dismantle President Obama’s climate agenda, especially first-time EPA carbon-emissions rules for power plants.
However, the bill does not include climate policies long-sought by environmentalists as well as many Democrats that would explicitly put a price on carbon emissions, either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.