On November 5, 2009, Senate Democrats on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (“EPW Committee”) ended a three-day Republican boycott by passing the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, S. 1733 (“Kerry-Boxer Bill”), without Republican participation.  Given the concerns that Committee Rules prevented a mark-up without a least two members of the minority party present, no mark-up was previously held on Tuesday or Wednesday, November 3rd and 4th, respectively.  The Democrats approved the Kerry-Boxer Bill without considering any amendments by a vote of 10-1.  The Kerry-Boxer Bill, sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA), can now move forward to the full U.S. Senate floor.  (See October 5, 2009 edition of the WER)
At the EPW Committee’s mark-up, only one Democrat, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) voted against the bill because it did not address his concerns, including lower emission targets for 2020.  While Senator Baucus voted against the bill, he did state that he remains fully committed to create legislation on climate change.  Senator Baucus will most likely play a key role in any piece of legislation on climate change that comes before the full Senate because he is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee (“Finance Committee”) and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee (“Agriculture Committee”).     
All seven Republicans on the EPW Committee boycotted committee meetings this week designed to mark-up the Kerry-Boxer Bill.  The Republicans have consistently demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) conduct a comprehensive analysis on the bill in order to understand its full effects.  Before the vote on the bill began, ranking minority member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) again asked the Democrats to wait until the EPA could conduct a full economic analysis of the bill.  The Democrats have countered the Republican’s arguments by stating that the EPA has already done an abbreviated analysis, that the additional $140,000 cost of another study is unnecessary, and that the impacts of the bill will be essentially identical to climate change legislation adopted by the House of Representatives in H.R. 2454 in June.    
Timing of further Senate consideration of climate change legislation is uncertain.  Six Committees have jurisdiction over the issue, including Senator Baucus’ Finance Committee and Senator Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AR) Agriculture Committee.  Meanwhile, Senators Kerry, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CN) have said that they are working with the Obama Administration and key Senate committee chairman on a bipartisan approach to climate change legislation that might include expanded incentives for nuclear power and possibly provisions for offshore oil and gas production.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is reportedly expected to discuss timing with the relevant committee chairmen next week.
The full text of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is available at the EPW Committee’s website at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=1d1bc826-beed-4eb3-933b-d7559bc61d4b