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What is a Kerry-Boxer? And should I like it?

October 5, 2009

It’s an 821 page draft climate bill sponsored by Senate Chairmen John Kerry (MA) and Barbara Boxer (CA). It has likable pieces and ones that are in the “not so much” category.  That said it is a step better than the June House-passed climate and energy bill, H.R. 2454.

Three Kerry-Boxer improvements over the June House-passed climate bill
1. Retains EPA authority to regulate heat-trapping pollution
2. Increases pollution cuts to 20% by 2020 (of 2005 levels)
3. Moderately improves pollution offsets language

[FCNL is currently completing an in-depth analysis of the draft Kerry-Boxer bill, so check back on our website soon.]

After a summer of relative legislative silence from the Senate on climate, Kerry-Boxer was finally made public last Wednesday, September 30th, although much of the bill that deals with allocating the billions of dollars of pollution permits has not yet been filled in. The draft generally follows the path that the House-passed bill laid out, including using a “cap and trade” mechanism to cut heat-trapping pollution.

Trying to make it better:

FCNL has spent the entire summer trying to get the best language possible in Kerry-Boxer. We did help make minor changes. We hoped for more.

We understand the political realities that Senators Kerry and Boxer must face when attempting to draw-up a bill that can muster the 60 votes needed to pass legislation in the U.S. Senate.  But those “realities” need to change. Senators need to hear from every direction that we can and must do more, and that doing more is good for our economy, security, and the environment.

There will be other opportunities to improve the bill during the Senate committee process, and we will be there – working with our network across the country – every step of the way.


– Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Action (Oct +)
– Other Senate committee action (this year, next year, dependent on health care)
– Senate Floor (unknown, May 2010 is thought to be the latest the 111th Congress would consider the measure)

  1. Lorraine Hughes permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:49 am

    We must not let up. We must curtail carbon emissions as much as possible.

  2. Cecilia AnnMiller permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:36 pm

    Environment of the UTMOST imortance~

  3. Jean Blackwood permalink
    October 9, 2009 11:14 am

    Senator McCaskill from Missouri generally supports climate change legislation but she is concerned that legislation will have an inordinately bad effect on states like Missouri that rely so heavily on coal. Is she right and what can we say to her about this?

  4. October 9, 2009 12:23 pm

    They should push for higher limits on coal emissions and other contaminants in
    the air, strictly enforce air quality standards on industries that produce them –
    in short, they should expect and demand *more*. Climate change is a major
    issue, and it isn’t going to wait for the pig-ignorant Republicans and resistant Democrats.

  5. Joyce Waters on What is a Kerry-Boxer? permalink
    October 10, 2009 2:31 am

    I agree with Beth Kaplan that we can’t wait to strictly enforce air quality standards. Regulators need to perform rigorously. With glaciers disappearing, oceans warming, and unusual weather all around the world, we can’t sit still and wait for calamity.

  6. Devin permalink
    October 15, 2009 9:10 am

    FYI – A complete Senate climate bill analysis that FCNL is completing will be out very soon. Stay tuned. Devin

  7. Hollister Knowlton permalink
    October 19, 2009 2:11 pm

    Great post, Devin. thank you. and yes, indeed, we must and can do more. Quakers are holding a number of events this Saturday, along with 100’s of thousands (millions?) globally lifting up 350 (ppm) as the necessary goal. Could you add to your post your helpful summary of what % reductions from what years are needed by 2020 and 2050 to get us there.

    My understanding is that 25-40% from 1990 levels are needed by 2020 and 80-85% from 1990 levels are needed by 2050 to reach the 350 goal, but no one seems to sort all that out for us.

    thanks much, Hollister

  8. jack bradin permalink
    October 19, 2009 3:23 pm

    Devin, Please let me know if David Millar and my recent posts or interaction with Greenpeace, Earth Justice, and PDA, on the legions of problems with offsets and any of the trading mechanisms still in this pending legislation would be of help?

  9. Martin Smith permalink
    October 24, 2009 3:48 am

    As you know I am a Friend who lives in Yorkshire, England and that I am much concerned that the USA may not be able to enact effective legislation on climate change – with adverse effect accross the world, beyond your country. I believe that this concern is widespread and deeply held in Europe – possibly more so than is understood in the USA.
    I hope and pray that individually and collectively you will arise about self interest in this matter and act in the Light. I wish to be with you at this testing time.
    Martin Smith

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