A price collar consists of two parts: a price floor (or reserve price) and a price ceiling. In this bill, the price floor will be set at $12 per ton of carbon dioxide in 2013. (The price floor rises at the rate of inflation plus 3 percent annually until 2050.) That means that authorities will not sell any permits for less than $12. This implies that not all of the permits available for sale under the cap will necessarily be used—good news for the climate and clean-energy jobs.
On the other hand, the price ceiling will be set at $25 per ton of carbon-dioxide in 2013. (The price ceiling rises at the rate of inflation plus 5 percent annually until 2050.) That means that authorities will sell as many permits for $25 as anyone wants to buy. This means that permits may be sold in excess of the cap’s limits, which is bad for the atmosphere. Fortunately, any permits sold in excess of the cap in any one auction are not actually in excess of the cap in aggregate. That’s because the bill provides for a “strategic reserve” of carbon permits. This stockpile of permits is assembled with a percentage of permits shaved off the annual cap in each year; and then replenished by unsold permits (in the event that the auction hits the price floor), by international offsets (at a discount of 5 offsets per 4 carbon permits added to the reserve), and then by domestic offsets, in that order.
I'm still getting a handle on offsets, but it appears from the above description that control and access to offsets are tightly restricted. More about offsets here. I'm increasingly accepting offsets as being viable. Enviros need to adjust. I'd also guess that something might go wrong with the offsets and need correcting legislation later. So much for perfection, but we weren't going to get perfection anyway.
As for actually adding something to the discussion, I have two original comments: first, there's no abrogation of EPA authority to regulate emissions under the Clean Water Act, as opposed to the Clean Air Act. Don't tell the bad guys about this, but there's AFAIK ongoing consideration of ocean acidification under the CWA.
Second, I have an idea that would "weaken" the legislation: include a provision that sets a floor for US emissions so they don't fall under Indian or Chinese emissions per capita. That should handle the complaints that we're letting those countries get away with murder. Yes, I'm serious.