Summary of McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2005

The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2005 (S.1151) introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), would limit, from 2010 on, the total greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by the U.S. electricity generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial sectors to the amount emitted in 2000. The affected sectors represented approximately 85% of the overall U.S. emissions in the year 2000. The bill also would provide for the trading of GHG emission allowances and reductions.

Target: The bill would cap the 2010 aggregate emissions level for the covered sectors at the 2000 level. The bill's emissions limits would not apply to the direct emissions of the agricultural and the residential sectors. Certain subsectors would be exempt if U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that it was not feasible to measure their GHG emissions. The U.S. Department of Commerce would biennially re-evaluate the level of allowances to determine whether it was consistent with the objective of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change of stabilizing GHG emissions at a level that will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

Allowances: An entity that was in a covered sector, or that produced or imported synthetic GHGs, would be subject to the requirements of this bill if it (a) owned at least one facility that annually emitted more than 10,000 metric tons of GHGs (measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalents – MTCO2E); (b) produced or imported petroleum products used for transportation that, when combusted, would emit more than 10,000 MTCO2E; or (c) produced or imported HFC, PFC and SF6 that, when used, would emit more than 10,000 MTCO2E. Each covered entity would be required to submit to the EPA one tradeable allowance for each MTCO2E directly emitted. Each petroleum refiner or importer would be required to submit an allowance for each unit of petroleum product sold that, when combusted, would emit one MTCO2E. Each producer or importer of HFC, PFC, and SF6 would be required to submit an allowance for each unit sold that, when used, would emit one MTCO2E. The EPA would determine the method of calculating the amount of GHG emissions associated with combustion of petroleum products and use of HFC, PFC, and SF6.

Allocation of Allowances: The Commerce Department would determine the amount of allowances to be given away or "grandfathered" to covered entities and the amount to be given to the Climate Change Credit Corporation established by the bill. The Commerce Department's determination would be subject to a number of allocation factors identified in the bill. The Corporation would use proceeds from the sale of allowances to reduce energy costs of consumers, assist disproportionately affected workers, help low income communities and individuals, disseminate technological solutions to climate change, and aid fish and wildlife in adapting and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Flexibility Mechanisms: Covered entities would have flexibility in acquiring their allowances. In addition to the allowances grandfathered to them, covered entities could trade with other covered entities to acquire additional allowances, if necessary. Also, any entity would be allowed to satisfy up to 15% of its total allowance requirements by submitting (a) tradeable allowances from another nation's market in GHGs; (b) a net increase in sequestration registered with the National Greenhouse Gas Database established by the bill; (c) a GHG emission reduction by a non-covered entity registered with the Database; and (d) allowances borrowed against future reductions (as described below). A covered entity that agreed to emit no more than its 1990 levels by 2010 would be allowed meet up to 20% of its requirement through (a) international credits, (b) sequestration, and (c) registered reductions, but not (d) borrowed credits. An entity planning to make capital investments or deploy technologies within the next 5 years would be allowed to borrow against the expected GHG emission reductions to meet current year requirements. The loan would include a 10 percent interest rate.

National Greenhouse Gas Database: The EPA Administrator would be required to implement a comprehensive system for GHG reporting, inventorying, and reductions registrations. Covered entities would be required to report their GHG emissions and non-covered entities would be allowed to register GHG emission reductions and sequestration. The National Greenhouse Gas Database would be, to the maximum extent possible, complete, transparent, accurate, and designed to minimize costs incurred by entities in measuring and reporting emissions. The Commerce Department, within one year of enactment, would be required to establish, by rule, measurement and verification standards and standards to ensure a consistent and accurate record of GHG emissions, emissions reductions, sequestration, and atmospheric concentrations for use in the registry.

Penalty: Any covered entity not meeting its emissions limits would be fined for each ton of GHGs over the limit at the rate of three times the market value of a ton of GHG.

Research: The bill would establish a scholarship program at the National Science Foundation for students studying climate change. The bill would also require the Commerce Department to report on technology transfer and on the impact of the Kyoto Protocol on the U.S. industrial competitiveness and international scientific cooperation.

The bill also would make changes to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, establish an abrupt climate change research program at the Commerce Department, and establish a program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the areas of standards and measurement technologies.

Innovation: The bill would rename the Technology Administration, within the Commerce Department, the Innovation Administration. The responsibilities of the Commerce Department would be expanded to include the development of climate change innovation policies. The bill would establish a variety of programs and studies focused on fostering climate change innovation ranging from grade school education and university programs to technology transfer and patents.

The bill would establish additional research and demonstration programs for cleaner transportation, retooling of vehicle manufactures for advanced low-GHG-emitting vehicles, energy efficiency, and managing and monitoring agricultural and geological sequestration, among other concerns.

Technology: Revenues generated from the sale of allowances granted to the Climate Change Credit Corporation (see above) would be used to promote three different aspects of technology innovation and deployment: (1) first-of-a-kind engineering, (2) construction of the first generation of facilities that use substantially new technology, and (3) the marketing and procurement of low/no-GHG-emitting power or low-GHG-producing products. Projects for first-of-a-kind engineering and construction support would be selected according to the extent to which they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are a substantially new technology, and attain cost effectiveness and economic competitiveness, among other criteria. The construction loan program for new facilities that meet the criteria would include at most three advanced coal power-generating facilities that combine Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and carbon capture technologies with geological storage of greenhouse gases; three nuclear reactors (one of each new certified design); three large-scale biofuels facilities that maximize cellulosic biomass use; and three large-scale solar power facilities, and would be open to other unspecified technologies meeting the environmental and economic criteria.

Funding provided for first-of-a-kind engineering would be reimbursed to the Climate Change Credit Corporation by facilities that made subsequent use of the engineering and design supported by this program. Financial support for construction would be in the form of secured loans or loan guarantees that would be paid back to the Corporation. The reimbursed funds could be placed in a revolving fund to continue these programs as long as the Corporation deemed appropriate. Support for the marketing and procurement of low/no-emitting end products would be funded directly from the proceeds earned by auctioning 50% of the Corporation’s allowances. This program would be designed to evolve as innovation and technology moved forward.

For more information, see our Comparison of Climate Policy Proposals.