The long awaited climate bill, dubbed the American Power Act, was delivered for discussion in the Senate. The bill carries a number of clean tech provisions to ponder.
The bill, backed by Senators John Kerry, D-Mass. and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., will make a few headlines for allowing states to opt out of federal drilling up to 75 miles away from their shores, but for our purposes let's check out the provisions that will affect clean tech and the infrastructure that will ride shotgun.
You can read the summary of the bill here and the full 900-plus pages should you have more time.
Among the key provisions addressing clean tech (statement):
Nuclear plants: The bill aims to encourage nuclear power generation. Specifically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to submit a report 90 days after the bill is passed to outline how it will expedite plant licensing "guided by sound science and engineering while remaining fully mindful of environmental and safety concerns." In addition, there's a $54 billion loan guarantee program and the Feds will cover delay costs for up to 12 reactors, up from the 6 today. A lab will be formed to research spent fuel recycling. There's also a 5-year accelerated depreciation schedule for nuclear power plants.
Coal sequestration: Within 180 days of the bill's enactment, the EPA will gather a task force to highlight the barriers to commercial deployment of carbon capture technologies. Coal-fired plants will face new performance standards for facilities permitted in 2009 and after. Plants launched between 2009 and 2020 will have four years to meet performance targets. Every plant launched after 2020 has to meet standards from the beginning. The EPA would presumably set these standards under the Clean Air Act.
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: The bill mandates that a electric vehicle national transportation plan examines the need for refueling infrastructure and the standardization needs between electricity providers, automakers and electricity buyers.
Research and development: The bill establishes a Clean Energy Technology Fund to support programs that develop clean technology. There will also be a fund for clean vehicles.
Green jobs: The Secretary of Education is authorized to give grants to programs focused on clean energy careers. Other agencies such as Labor, Energy and Education are supposed to work together to promote green careers.
Natural gas: The bill extends and doubles for 10 years the alternative fuel credits for the purchase of natural gas vehicles that top 8,500 pounds and can operate for more than 175 miles on one fueling. Also doubles the credit for commercial vehicles lower than that weight. The bill also provides incentives for facilities that build vehicles powered by natural gas and a study will examine the use of the fuel in the Federal fleet.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com