In September, the US Senate unveiled its version of cap and trade draft legislation, which, although it calls for deeper short term GHG emission reductions than the House of Representative’s Waxman-Markey bill, is in fact quite similar to the House bill which passed during the summer.

The Senate bill, known as the Kerry-Boxer bill, seeks reductions in US emissions of 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 (Waxman-Markey has a 17% target) and 83% below 2005 levels by 2050 (the same as Waxman-Markey).

The legislation seeks to put in place a national cap and trade system that would only apply to large emitters that account for around 75% of US GHG emissions. The bill allows emitters to use offsets to meet their compliance targets as is the case with Waxman-Markey. However, unlike Waxman-Markey, of the 2 billion offsets that will be allowed for compliance, 75% may come from domestic projects, while only 25% may come from international projects. This number was split equally in Waxman-Markey.

More recently, Democratic Senator John Kerry, one of the Senate bill’s original sponsors, Republican Lindsey Graham and Independent Joe Lieberman, who have been working together to draft a bill that has the bipartisan support thought to be required to get the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate, released a “framework” document which proposed certain amendment to the Senate bill.

The document, which was attached to a letter send to President Obama, indicated that the 2020 GHG emission reduction target is reeled back to the same level as Waxman-Markey and the 2050 reduction target is reduced to 80% of 2005 levels. More importantly perhaps, the document contains comfort language around coal, nuclear energy and domestic drilling for oil. Indications perhaps that in the end, US legislation may be a sort of potpourri, in which everyone gets something they like, with a side of pork.