[social_buttons]Senior US Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Ed Markey (D-Mass) today released draft cap-and-trade legislation that would reshape US energy and climate policy through drastic cuts in emissions in the next 20 years and significant increases in renewables by 2025.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), intended to “create jobs, help end our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and combat global warming” according to the official announcement of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, centers around four titles:
- A clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, low-carbon fuels, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission;
- An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry;
- A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants; and
- A transitioning title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.
The bill seeks emissions reductions greater than those proposed by the president: calling for a 20 percent cut in emissions from 2005 by 2020 instead of the 14 percent included in Obama’s Feburary budget. It also calls for utilities to produce one-quarter of US electricity from renewables sources by 2025, and includes a federal low carbon fuel standard modeled on California legislation.
While the stated intent of the bill is “to strengthen our economy by making America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies”, it comes at a time when some US lawmakers have raised concerns about how such a cap-and-trade program would hurt an economy already in recession. To address this concern, the legislation would award industry up to 2 billion tons of “offsets” once GHG restrictions are enacted.
Industry leaders are likewise concerned that emissions restrictions would gravely impact their competitiveness internationally. For energy-intensive businesses who fear that costs imposed by climate-change laws will put them at a disadvantage with countries – like China – which appear unlikely to impose similar restrictions, the bill proposes “rebates” so that they can remain competitive.
While these and other measures contained in the 600-page draft climate bill are likely to stimulate intense debate on the Hill, it is what the bill does not say that has seemed to cause the most initial controversy. Namely, the bill does not include measures for distribution of pollution allowances, or state whether they would be auctioned or freely given to polluting industries.
Nevertheless, several Democratic lawmakers briefed on the bill yesterday remain hopeful the bill would pass. Rep Bart Stupak commented “I think there might be some angst, but they’ll get there.”