Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill
On September 30, 2009, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (the Kerry-Boxer bill). This bill would create a national cap and trade system aimed at reducing green house gas emissions. The bill calls for a 20 percent emissions cut by 2020, higher than the 17% cut in the House bill that narrowly passed in late June called for, and greater than the 80 percent cut by 2050.
Unfortunately, this cap and trade system does not adequately represent America's private forests by assuring credit is given to the carbon sequestration already occurring in America's working forests.
FLA does not support or oppose cap and trade legislation, but feels any cap and trade legislation should incentivize current and future private forest landowners for the carbon they are currently sequestering and storing in their trees. New market opportunities like this are crucial for keeping America's private forests as forest. Without such markets, this carbon sequestration on working forests could decline because of land-use change.
The Kerry-Boxer bill does not include a Renewable Electricity Standard as the House bill did earlier this year. However, measures concerning renewable energy are included. The biomass definition concerning these energy provisions is narrow and once again excludes most private forests from participating in any energy programs detailed in the bill.
FLA believes renewable energy legislation must include the broad and inclusive definition of renewable biomass passed in the House Energy and Climate bill (HR 2454) earlier this year.
The 821-page Kerry-Boxer bill will be considered in the Environment and Public Works Committee in the weeks ahead. However, most believe it is unlikely to pass this year.
FLA continues to work with the germane Senate committees, Senators, and their personal staffs toward a better definition in this and future bills that deal with trees as a renewable energy source.