The Carbon Nine Determine Waxman-Markey's Fate

Posted by Gristmill Wed, 27 May 2009 16:39:00 GMT

From Grist’s Jonathan Hiskes.

Imagine the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives standing in a single line, from the most likely to support climate change legislation to the least likely. At the far “green” end, i.e. most inclined to vote for greenhouse gas restrictions, you’d find Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott. At the far “brown” end, Texas Republican/libertarian Ron Paul.

Predictably, most Republicans would stand nearer to Paul’s end. Most Democrats would stand closer to McDermott. In the exact center, according to recent work by two economists, are nine lawmakers. And if the Waxman-Markey climate bill receives a full House vote, any one of them could provide the 218th “yes” – the decisive vote that passes the bill.

Let’s call them the Carbon Nine: Jason Altmire (Pennsylvania), Rick Boucher (Virginia), Artur Davis (Alabama), Baron Hill (Indiana), Charlie Melancon (Louisiana), Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota), Mike Ross (Arkansas), John Tanner (Tennessee), and Gene Taylor (Mississippi).

They’re all Democrats and all men. The nine mostly rural districts they represent are among the country’s most economically reliant on fossil fuels; their districts’ per-capita carbon emissions are, on average, more than three times higher than the national median. (This doesn’t mean people in those districts use more power than average folk, only that the industries located in those districts are carbon-intensive.) In the 2008 presidential election, voters in each of these districts but Davis’ went for Republican John McCain.

The “issues” sections of the Carbon Nine’s official congressional websites tend to call for energy independence and expanded domestic production but rarely mention climate change. Seven of the nine are members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats that emphasizes fiscal conservatism; Hill and Melancon are co-chairs of the group.

Four of the nine sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which passed the bill last Thursday, with two (Boucher and Hill) voting for it, and two (Melancon and Ross) voting against. The other Carbon Nine members say they are undecided, voicing concerns that the bill would slow economic recovery and transfer money from Southern and Midwestern states to coastal ones.

“I’d like to have a bill I could vote for,” said Melancon, who represents a southern Louisiana district where oil and natural gas drilling and refining are the chief economic drivers. “I need to be able to go home and say I protected the interests and the jobs of the people in my state and my district. So this can’t be an extreme piece of legislation. It needs to moderate our movement forward.”

Three others seem set on opposing the bill. Altmire recently said, “I think cap-and-trade is bad policy.” Taylor called cap-and-trade “a Ponzi scheme.” Last week, Davis and the rest of Alabama’s congressional delegation sent a letter (PDF) to Energy Committee leaders warning that the bill would “stifle any attempt at reviving our economy and getting back on the path to economic growth, making it nearly impossible for new industries to move into the U.S.”

Turning pols into statistics

The identities of the Carbon Nine were culled from a yet-unpublished paper by economists Matthew Kahn of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Michael Cragg of the Brattle Group consultancy, “Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production” (PDF). The list—in Appendix One, if you’d like to see it—relies on regional carbon emissions data from the Vulcan Project of Purdue University’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Kahn and Cragg assigned scores to members of the 110th Congress based on three key climate votes drawn from the League of Conservation Voters 2007 Voter Scorecard [PDF]. The two authors gave weight to household income levels (richer voters show more support for regulation) and ideology (same with liberal voters), and combined these scores with the Vulcan carbon data to produce the ranking.

“These geographical facts suggest that the Obama Administration and the Waxman Committee will face distributional challenges in building a majority voting coalition [for a climate agreement],” they write.

There are limits to the authors’ method. First, Kahn and Cragg ranked members of the 110th Congress (Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2009), so lawmakers first elected in 2008 are not included. Second, they used county-by-county data, so districts within the same high-population counties are scored identically, and counties that include multiple districts were counted in all of those districts.

“I doubt [the county data] is going to make a difference in the main punch-line of the paper,” said Kevin Gurney, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University who started the Vulcan Project.

Also, 22 other House Democrats come very close to the middle (see a list of them) and could well play a swing vote role if and when Waxman-Markey goes before the full House.

Dan Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress and a Grist contributor of late, cautioned against giving the ranking too much weight with so many factors still unknown—what other House committees will do with the bill, when it will receive a vote, how President Obama will try to influence lawmakers.

“This analysis tries to lay scientific assessment over what is essentially an art,” said Weiss. “The methodology is valuable for thinking about who are the targets, or the votes up for grabs, but it is not very useful as a predictor.”

The Coasts vs. the Heartland

The Kahn-Cragg ranking highlights the geographical divide between relatively cleaner congressional districts on the East and West coasts and the more carbon-intensive areas represented by the Carbon Nine and lawmakers like them—those who must be convinced a climate bill will not unfairly burden their districts.

“The proposed [renewable energy] mandate would unfairly penalize southern states, like Alabama, simply because of our geography,” Davis, who is running for governor in 2010, wrote with his fellow Alabama legislators. “While other states have the ability to make electricity from wind and solar power, Alabama lacks the natural resources to meet these mandates due to cloud coverage and little wind.”

Indeed, the paper’s authors warn that “conservative, poor, rural areas will face a higher carbon bill under a cap and trade system than rich, urban areas.” They did not factor the other elements of the Waxman-Markey bill designed to even out this disparity, such as energy-efficiency and low-income relief measures. But the nine House members have the same concern.

“Everybody should have some skin in the game,” Melancon said in an interview last week, before voting against the bill. “Everybody needs to sacrifice. This bill should not be picking winners and losers, and I see some of that in there, so I have concerns.”

He outlined his policy concerns in a committee statement, advocating for increasing domestic production of fossil fuels, making domestic offsets more available, relaxing the definition of biomass under the bill’s renewable standard, and increasing funding for wetlands restoration for his coastal district.

“I’m concerned about the [climate] long-term, but if people aren’t working, you can’t pay for any of this stuff,” he said. “No matter how you frame this thing, you’ve got to make it so that it doesn’t collapse the economy. It doesn’t do us any good to clean up if nobody has any jobs.”

He also said he’s heard a lot more about the bill from business interests in his district than from constituents. “Right now, I don’t know that the private citizens are that well engaged,” he said.

They’ll have a little time to become engaged, as several other House committees may demand a review of the bill before it gets a floor vote. For lawmakers on the fence, that could be time to exercise their influence. Boucher has already demonstrated the deal-brokering power that comes with a swing vote, playing the lead negotiating role for undecided coal-state Democrats on the Energy Committee. He was able to get authors Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to lower the bill’s targets for emissions and said he would continue seeking even lower targets, stating that his vote for the bill in committee does not guarantee he would support it on the House floor.

Others are waiting to reveal their positions. Ethan Rabin, press secretary for Taylor, said the Mississippi congressman hadn’t had enough time to review the 932-page bill and decide where he stands.

“He’s pretty much right down the middle,” Rabin said.

Summary of the Carbon Nine’s positions on the Waxman-Markey climate bill

(See also the positions of 22 other House members within three percent of Kahn and Cragg’s “center” of the House on climate.)

  • Jason Altmire (Pennsylvania): Seems to oppose; calls cap-and-trade “bad policy.”
  • Rick Boucher (Virginia): Voted for it in committee but says he will keep pushing for lower targets.
  • Artur Davis (Alabama): Seems to oppose; said it would penalize Alabama and that Congress should address health care first.
  • Baron Hill (Indiana): Voted for it in committee.
  • Charlie Melancon (Louisiana): Voted against it in committee.
  • Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota): Undecided. Says science requires action on climate change but he will support a bill only if it protects North Dakota interests.
  • Mike Ross (Arkansas): Voted against it in committee.
  • John Tanner (Tennessee): Undecided, according to his press secretary.
  • Gene Taylor (Mississippi): Seems to oppose; called cap-and-trade “a Ponzi scheme.”

House Chatter about Waxman-Markey 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 27 May 2009 12:05:00 GMT

An E&E News piece on how House Energy and Commerce members are acting as whips for the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) is replete with quotations that tell the story of how negotiations on the bill will proceed.

Committee members

Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.):
We’re just savoring the victory and right now I love every provision in that bill. But I don’t love it so much that I wouldn’t want to hear what other people have to say about it, and learn more and examine other alternatives that might do better.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.):
Congress is a stimulus response institution. And nothing is more stimulating that millions of Americans who want a change with energy. We’re seeing the beginning of it here.
Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colo.):
We really need to be emissaries to the caucus, talking to them about how we were able to find some good common ground, and how it’s a good bill.
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), on EPA biofuels regulations and climate legislation:
Many people tend to confuse the concerns created by both mechanisms. I’m trying to be that broker in between who have legitimate concerns about the indirect land-use implications, especially for my state, as a huge proponent of biofuels, at the same time, recognizing the obligation to the future of this country to move forward with this climate and energy bill.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.):
I’m still learning the legislation. There’s so much to comprehend. And the manager’s amendment just dropped this week. There’s a lot of details in there we don’t fully understand. Hopefully, I can be a representative of leadership and try to persuade members to vote for it. That’s my duty as a whip.
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.):
I’ve done my job as a member of the committee. I’m glad to answer any questions members have about what the Energy and Commerce Committee has done. Beyond that, I’m going to be a spectator like everyone else, and we’ll see what happens after all the committees do their work and what the bill looks like and we’ll go from there.

Agriculture Committee

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.):
If they don’t want to change it, then they’ll have to find the votes some other place. In my district, a ‘no’ vote would be a good vote.
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.):
I don’t think [Peterson] is bluffing. He has got the support he says he has.
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.):
I think of the whole cap-and-trade idea as a Ponzi scheme. I don’t like the idea that one factory is cleaner than it has to be so that another a factory is dirtier than it should be, because historically that factory that’s dirtier than it should be ends up in the South. ... If the vote was today, I’d vote ‘no.’
Taylor, on having breakfast with Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.):
He was explaining how he’d become a convert. I’ll just leave it at that. He did not try to twist my arm or influence my vote in any way.

Other Democrats

House Democratic Caucus Committee Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.):
You need the votes of the entire caucus. But I think the willingness for everyone to work and understand the fragility of this is helpful, and I think we’ll get a bill. We’ve got to bring everybody together, and there’s nobody better than that than Nancy Pelosi.
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee:
That’s the process we go through on every bill. The speaker insists you constantly widen the circle and enlarge it so you take in these interests, so when the bill is finished, people will speak up, organizations will speak up.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.):
I don’t care what restrictions we put on it, we do not want to enable Wall Street hedge funds, derivative traders and others to create another bubble and take control of our carbon markets. Cap? Fine. Regulate? Great. Trade? No.


House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.):
As this bill is now out there in the public domain, I think people will understand the extraordinary cost that this will impose to business and working families. And at the end of the day, that will be what will kill this bill.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.):
I actually think it may have been a mistake for the Energy and Commerce Committee to mark this bill up and then send its members home because a lot of them have taken votes that are not going to be easy votes to explain in their districts. And their experience will work against getting people who aren’t on the committee to want to go down the same path.

Energy Committee Approves American Clean Energy and Security Act 33 to 25

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 21 May 2009 12:35:00 GMT

At 8:35 pm, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), co-sponsored by chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and environmental subcommittee chair Ed Markey (D-Mass.), by a vote of 33 to 25. Democrats Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Charlie Melancon (D-La.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) voted no. Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) was the only Republican to cross the aisle in support of the bill. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) failed to vote.

Weakening Amendments Fail as American Clean Energy and Security Act Moves Through Markup 1

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 20 May 2009 18:05:00 GMT

The Wonk Room’s guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

H.R. 2454The second day of markup on the Waxman/Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) saw a series of amendments from opponents designed to weaken the green economy bill fail in a series of votes. The debate on amendments will continue today and the sessions appear on track to get the bill voted out of committee before this weekend. As the committee discusses the landmark legislation, the Center for American Progress released an analysis of new numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists showing that households and businesses will save money on their electricity and natural gas bills if Congress passes a Renewable Energy Standard, currently included in ACES.

The renewable energy standard (RES), a key part of the Waxman/Markey bill, requires that 15% of electricity comes from wind, sun, or other renewable sources. In yesterday’s session, bill opponents continued to cite a variety of debunked numbers on increased costs to consumers, but this analysis shows that Americans will save money with the RES included in the bill. States across the country have already seen similar savings as they have implemented RES at the state level. A review by CAP found that half the states have amended their RES after implementation to make it stronger, suggesting its been a successful policy in the states.

Back in the committee, Republican opponents read from a script described by Politico as making “counterintuitive” arguments. Their new approach was based on a strategy memo urging opponents to attack the responsible business leaders who support clean energy legislation. The memo accuses businesses of being “guilty of manipulating national climate policy to increase profits on the backs of consumers.” The tone-deaf message of the memo won’t change the fact that businesses see ACES as a chance to create jobs and begin to chart a course out of the current recession. And the script urged:
The bottom line message is this: Democrats are protecting big business; Republicans are protecting consumers.

This ignores the fact that Republicans opposed every effort in 2008 to lower gasoline prices and rein in oil companies.

Amendments that passed yesterday included a provision introduced by Reps. Dingell and Inslee for a Clean Energy Deployment Administration within the Energy Department. This “green bank” would serve to promote clean energy projects in the U.S. through affordable financing for clean energy technologies. A similar amendment from Rep. Eshoo for a Clean Technology grant program also passed. Another major amendment passed was Rep. Betty Sutton’s (D-MI) “cash for clunkers” automotive upgrade program.

Waxman-Markey Legislation Gives Coal a Competitive Future 2

Posted by SolveClimate Tue, 19 May 2009 14:00:00 GMT

By SolveClimate’s David Sassoon.

America’s future climate law began working its way through Congress this week, rewritten with new details and changes that were negotiated to give the coal industry generous incentives and the regulatory certainty to compete for a place in the nation’s energy future.

Here’s how Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia, a lead negotiator for coal state Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, described the deal they worked out:
I’ve been working extensively to fashion a controlled program that Congress can adopt which will preserve coal jobs, create the opportunity for increasing coal production and keep electricity rates in regions like Southwest Virginia affordable. The compromise that I have reached with Chairman Waxman achieves those goals.

Boucher and fellow coal state Democrats cut those deals with the bill’s authors, Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, with President Obama – a "clean coal" supporter – giving them a free hand to arrive at the formula that would secure the votes needed for passage.

Although the president called for a polluter-pays 100% auction of carbon allowances when he asked Congress for a climate law, the now 932-page American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 does the precise opposite: It contains a formula that gives most of the allowances to polluters for free – with about a third of them going to the coal-dominated power industry at no cost.

The free allocations were one major reason that Greenpeace withdrew support for the bill within hours of its introduction, but most of those in the climate community who have weighed in so far have been willing to swallow compromises that would have been unthinkable in January. Al Gore’s support for the bill remains undiminished. Paul Krugman at The New York Times summed up the prevailing attitude best:

The legislation now on the table isn’t the bill we’d ideally want, but it’s the bill we can get — and it’s vastly better than no bill at all.

As climate actors start wading further into the details of the bill’s provisions, however, they may find themselves hard pressed to justify passive acquiescence while enduring the certain further weakening of the bill on the Senate floor.

Ground zero of the contention centers around coal, an embattled industry which emerged from the negotiations with a surprisingly good deal. The bill contains performance standards for new coal plants that are weaker than those in the original Waxman-Markey discussion draft, funnels billions in funds and incentives to the development of "clean coal," and strips EPA of authority to proceed with development of regulations for smokestack CO2 produced by the industry.

Further, although the bill imposes a gradual economy-wide emissions cap, the penalty for non-compliance or failure to achieve target reductions would amount to no more than a slap on the wrist, given the low price permits are expected to fetch on the market for some time.

Mainstream environmental groups, however, are focused on what they would get in exchange — the holy grail of their climate campaign — the establishment of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system whose efficacy they believe can be increased over time. The bill also legislates valuable and groundbreaking support for clean energy, energy efficiency and green jobs, using federal law to erect economic pillars vital for eventually transitioning to a clean energy economy.

They seem satisfied even though the new bill also reduced the proposed national standard on renewable energy from 25% to 20%, compared to the first draft, diminishing its potential competitive pressure on coal.

All sides are now wading through the details of the massive bill, spinning messages and planning strategies for the political battle that is likely to continue for the duration of the year. It is unlikely that the parameters of coal’s good deal will substantially change during this week’s committee mark-up, but in the coming months, the future of coal will be a major topic of concern.

The continued growth and survival of coal brings three strikes against the bill in every climate campaigners handbook: It’s the source of the lion’s share of global CO2 emissions, it creates a weak negotiating position when across the table from China, and it fails to show the kind of leadership the world will want to see from the U.S. in Copenhagen.

Weakened Standards and Large Bonuses

The discussion draft of the Waxman-Markey bill contained performance standards for new coal plants that had some real bite. For starters, the draft stipulated that after January 1, 2015, no coal plants that emitted more than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour would be permitted for construction. That’s a natural gas standard of performance, something that no coal plant can currently do, so it looked as if after 2015, no coal plants could be built unless they could capture and store their emissions. But the current bill has relaxed the standard in both definition and start date (see page 91).

Utilities may build coal plants permitted between now and 2020, as long as by 2025, these plants "achieve an emission limit that is a 50 percent reduction in emissions of the carbon dioxide produced by the unit." The language stipulating specific rate of emissions per megawatt-hour has been removed.

At the heart of the standard is the assumption that carbon capture and sequestration technology will be available for commercial deployment so that industry can comply. The bill is silent on what happens if CCS technology is not ready or proves unworkable.

It is possible that these new coal plants would be permitted to continue operations through a relaxation of the legal standard, since EPA even now cannot enforce a technology standard that cannot be met. Companies in the UK are already negotiating for an opt-out clause there if CCS is not ready in time.

Utilities in violation in any case would not be shut down, but would face penalties — set by the bill at two times the "fair market value of emissions allowances" (see page 427). The EPA estimates that a permit for a ton of CO2 would sell for only about $15 in 2020. That makes it possible for industry to plan to pay for non-compliance as the penalties would be relatively cheap, especially when compared to penalties under the acid rain cap and trade program, which are $2,000 per ton of pollutant in excess of allowance.

If the coal plants succeed in capturing and sequestering CO2 on the other hand, the owners stand to reap huge profits. First, the bill reserves 2% to 5% of allocations to pay for the development of CCS, which would amount to tens of billions of dollars of federal support for industry out of the gate, supplemented by an additional $1 billion annually made available through a small ratepayer levy.

The bill also provides enormous bonus allowances for the first movers of CCs technology potentially worth tens of billions of dollars. For every ton of CO2 that it sequestered, a utility would receive a bonus allowance many times more generous than the open carbon market would provide, from a minimum of $50 a ton to a maximum of $90 a ton for every ton of carbon sequestered.

EPA to Lose Primary Authority over CO2

In March 2008, Lisa Heinzerling of Georgetown Law School testified before Congress to explain the implications of Massachusetts v. EPA, the landmark case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In no uncertain terms, Heinzerling, an expert on the Clean Air Act who now works as an advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, testified that the agency must regulate CO2 from power plants as a result of the decision.

It was a prospect that sent shivers through the fossil fuel industry, fearful of an uncertain and protracted regulatory process. The Waxman-Markey bill, through amendments to the Clean Air Act, imposes limitations on the authority of EPA to proceed. The bill devotes an entire title, Title VII, to the amendments (see page 590), which prohibits any greenhouse gas, including CO2, from being listed as a "criteria pollutant" or a "hazardous air pollutant" on the basis of their effect on climate change.

The bill also does not permit greenhouse gases to trigger New Source Review, nor affect the granting of a permit to operate under Title V of the Clean Air Act.

In short, the legislation rewrites the law so that the impact of Massachusetts v. EPA is narrowed in scope and Congress takes the lead on GHG regulation. With coal state lawmakers controlling the swing votes, however, some groups like Greenpeace would rather see EPA in charge of setting the rules on climate protection.

Kansas and New Hampshire

In recent years, the utility industry has had an almost impossible time proceeding with construction of new coal plants. Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign has halted close to 100 projects, forcing industry to look to extending the life of its aging fleet of existing plants, which on average are close to 40 years old.

A look at circumstances in two cases — one in Kansas and one New Hampshire – shows how a proposed new plant and the upgrading of an aging plant, respectively, would proceed even if Waxman-Markey is signed into law. The long time horizon before the law begins to bite in 2025 – when allowance auctions begin and performance deadlines hit – means the regulations have little chance to impact the behavior of corporations, which can barely contemplate a decade of strategic planning.

Evidence of this comes recently from Kansas, where the new governor recently signed a surprise deal with Sunflower Electric to allow construction of a new coal plant that would send 75% of its electricity to customers out of state. The deal signaled a reversal of two years of effort championed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, now Obama’s Health Secretary.

The utility said it planned to break ground on construction within 10 months, fully aware of pending federal legislation that would impose a price on carbon and emissions standards on new plants eventually. There are no plans to make the plant ready for a CCS retrofit.

Similarly in New Hampshire, PSNH’s Merrimack Station, the largest single source polluter in the state, is moving ahead with a massive upgrade despite the opposition from leading local businesses, including Stonyfield Farms and Timberland.

The nearly half-billion dollars worth of upgrades won’t do anything to reduce the plant’s carbon emissions, but will allow the utility to reap an extra $20 million to $25 million a year from ratepayers. The state legislature, under the influence of the utility lobby, is turning a blind eye to the survival strategy of a dinosaur responsible for close to half of the CO2 emissions in the state.

Waxman-Markey is silent on the regulation of aging plants like these, presuming the carbon cap embedded in the bill will force needed changes through market mechanisms. PSNH, undeterred by the pending federal legislation, is already proceeding with construction on the half billion dollar upgrade.

There is some optimism within the climate community that market forces unleashed by the cap-and-trade program will put sufficient pressure on coal to force plants to close or diminish new construction in the coming decade. But the satisfaction within industry at the currently negotiated outcome is causing concern among others that the cap is far too weak to have an effect for decades.

It calls for a 4% reduction in U.S. emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, which is far below the EU target of a 20% reduction. The market signal may be barely audible. Indeed, one industrial Fortune 100 company with a carbon-intensive product line has been advised by three separate teams of consultants about the impact of a carbon price upon its business. Independently, the consultants reported that the impact in 2020 would be negligible, according to a company executive not authorized to speak publicly.

And even after 2020, one watchdog group was skeptical of success in ever making polluters pay. In a statement released today, Public Citizen had this to say:

We should not assume that a future Congress will hold fast to today’s pledge to hold polluters accountable in 20 years. In fact, using history as a guide, these polluters will simply ramp up their lobbying and influence-peddling in an effort to again stall the day of reckoning when their greenhouse gas emissions carry a price.

Climate advocates still have time to reassess where this legislation is headed. For now, official statements are supportive, though laced with carefully wrought caveats about the need for strengthening its climate protection mechanisms. The 932 pages have been publicly available for only a few days, and the first order of business is getting the bill out of committee and onto the House floor.

It remains to be seen how hard lawmakers will allow themselves to be pressed to dial back the generous cards being handed to coal-fired power generation in particular, and the massive bet they are making on a future in which greenhouse gases will kept out of the atmosphere and instead buried underground.

No one can dispute that politics has trumped science in the design of this law — at least considering the gradual pace of emissions reductions contemplated for the next decade or two. And there is great concern that this climate bill in Copenhagen will look like too little too late from an administration that has promised global leadership on climate change.

Official Summary of Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 17 May 2009 21:59:00 GMT


May 16, 2009

TO: Members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce
FR: Democratic Staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce
RE: Full Committee Business Meeting on May 18

On Monday, May 18, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, the full Committee on Energy and Commerce will meet in open markup session to consider H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES Act), comprehensive energy legislation to deploy clean energy resources, increase energy efficiency, cut global warming pollution, and transition to a clean energy economy.

In the past two and half years, the Committee has held dozens of hearings on energy and climate change policy and has built a detailed factual record on the need for legislation in this area. The nation’s dependence on foreign oil has significantly increased over the last decade. Consumers have faced increasing and volatile energy prices. Other countries have overtaken us in the manufacture of wind and solar energy. Energy company investments are paralyzed because of uncertainty about what policies the Congress will establish. Meanwhile, global warming pollution has increased unchecked.

On March 31, 2009, Chairman Waxman and Chairman Markey released a discussion draft of the ACES bill to address these problems. Since that time, nearly 70 witnesses have testified before the Committee about the legislation. The views of members and stakeholders have been considered by the Chairmen and a revised version of the ACES bill was introduced on May 15, 2009.

Following is a description of major provisions of the ACES bill. [Full text available here.]

American Clean Energy And Security Act Contents

Safe Climate Act Contents

Waxman and Markey Release Full Text of American Clean Energy and Security Act

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 15 May 2009 18:17:00 GMT

Following weeks of intense negotiations with industry-friendly Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and energy and environment subcommittee chair Edward Markey (D-Mass.) have released the complete text of their comprehensive energy and climate legislation. The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) now runs 927 pages.

Download the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

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