House Passes Bill to Address Threat of Climate Change

The historic American Clean Energy Act, co-sponsored by Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, has been passed by a close margin in the US House of Representatives. As reported by Kirsten Korosec on Bnet:

“Maybe it was Al Gore’s effort via telephone or Nancy Pelosi’s chocolate-covered Dove bars. Heck, maybe it was all of those last minute concessions to please lawmakers in farm states. After weeks of negotiations and compromises and nearly seven hours of debate on the House floor, the American Clean Energy Act, also known as ACEs or the Waxman-Markey bill, passed in the House on Friday in a 219-212 vote.

The 1,201-page bill is considered the broadest piece of legislation ever considered by Congress aimed at capping greenhouse gas emissions and placing a price on carbon. Under the bill, emissions would be cut 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. The massive bill tries to do it all and through a lengthy negotiating process to ensure its passage, it’s also loaded with compromises. But even with those concessions, the bill barely stayed alive, with more than 40 Democrats breaking ranks to vote against it.

Here are some highlights and a few of the compromises.

  • Farm states. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson held the bill hostage until certain compromises were made. What resulted is a 50-page amendment that among others things shifts control from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Agriculture to determine rules for carbon offsets, a program that would pay farmers for practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grist delves into the amendment and includes all the nitty gritty details.
  • Biofuels. Peterson’s amendment also requires a lengthy review, with final results published within five years, of biofuel regulations. During this five-year review, biofuels emissions from international indirect land use are exempt.
  • Clean energy technology. The bill provides $90 billion by 2025 for clean energy technology and energy efficiency, $60 billion for carbon capture and sequestration and $20 billion for electric and other advanced technology vehicles.
  • Solar, wind. A renewable energy standard has been established that will require 20 percent of all U.S. electricity to come from alternative sources by 2020. This mandate opens up opportunities for growth within the renewable energy industry including solar and wind power.

With such a hyper-focus on Waxman-Markey it’s easy to forget what lies ahead. The passage of Waxman-Markey is the first in a number of hurdles facing energy and climate change legislation.

From here, the battle moves onto the Senate, where its Energy and Natural Resources committee has already marked up its own energy legislation called American Clean Energy Leadership Act or ACELA. Any legislation dealing with climate change would fall to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. According to Grist, Barbara Boxer, who leads the Environment and Public Works committee, will produce a climate bill by the end of August.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already indicated, in a statement sent out Friday, the Senate and the appropriate committees will take up the energy and climate change legislation. But the fight promises be even more contentious in the Senate, where it must receive 60 votes to pass. That means every Democrat will have to be on board, plus a few Independents and Republicans.

Let the lobbying begin.”

- as reported by Kirsten Korosec on BNet Industries (Energy) 0 find the story here:

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