Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Democrats Reach Compromise On Waxman-Markey ACES Bill

May 13: Although no official announcement had been posted at press time, the Sierra Club issued a release indicating that the House Energy and Commerce Committee has reportedly reached agreement on a compromise version of the American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACES) [See WIMS 5/6/09], a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan. Other reports indicate that Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is still planning to get a vote before Memorial Day and that markup could begin on Monday.

The Roll Call reported last evening that Waxman said, “We have resolved a good number of the issues" and adding that the bill remains on track to clear his panel next week. Member opening statements are reportedly planned for Thursday with the markup beginning on Monday. Roll Call said Waxman indicated, “I am optimistic. I believe we will have the votes to pass the bill [next week].”

Resolving the highly contentious issues among the broad diversity of the Democrats on the full Committee (i.e. Midwest, South, Oil States, Coal States, etc.), would be a major victory for the Obama Administration and there is a feeling that if Democrats can resolve their differences and agree to a compromise bill it could increase the chances for approval in the Senate. It is assumed that all Republicans will vote against the bill. There are 36 Democrats and 23 Republicans on the full Committee. Further details on tentative compromises are reported in a May 13, New York Times article (see link below).

Sierra Club's Executive Director Carl Pope issued a statement saying, "Chairmen Waxman and Markey have done heroic work in reaching agreement on the Energy and Commerce Committee around a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan, a critically important milestone that has faced seemingly insuperable obstacles. Their leadership has been truly remarkable. But it is clear that Big Oil, Big Coal and other polluters are still holding out for a Congressional bailout. They will continue to try to riddle this legislation with loopholes, water it down, and load it up with hundreds of billions of dollars in giveaways. They don't want it to deliver a recovery fueled by the clean energy jobs that America needs.

"These polluters are trying to strangle the clean energy economy in its cradle, steal the benefits of the clean energy future from the American people, and keep us addicted to oil and dirty coal. As this bill moves through the many remaining steps in the legislative process, we will work to strengthen this bill, so that it meets President Obama's challenge to Congress and the American people. Only a bill which accomplishes these three things can really jumpstart the green recovery, build the clean energy future, and end our addiction to oil and coal: (1) Dramatically ramp up America's transition to cleaner, cheaper energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal; (2) Slash energy waste in order to cut emissions quickly and cheaply, while saving consumers money on their energy bills; and (3) Close the carbon pollution loophole and make polluters pay for the carbon pollution they emit."

Update at press time: Chairman Waxman officially announced the Committee on Energy and Commerce will meet in open markup session on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 1:00 PM, and subsequent days as necessary, in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, to consider the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

Access a release from Sierra Club (
click here). Access the article from Roll Call (click here). Access the NYT article (click here). Access a Twitter feed for the latest update reports (click here).