Monday, May 18, 2009

Markup Begins On Waxman-Markey ACES Bill

May 18: Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) officially introduced H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), late Friday, May 15. The Energy and Commerce Committee began markup of the bill today (May 18) at 1:00 PM and will complete consideration before the Memorial Day recess. The hearing today, began with opening statements from Committee members. There are 36 Democrats and 23 Republicans on the full Committee. Opening comments were completed and the Committee will reconvene tomorrow at 10:AM for what will likely be an all day and into the night session; with more to follow this week. Live video of the meetings is available at the website below.

Republicans remained united in their opposition to the bill. On May 14, Republicans members of the Committee, led by Ranking Member Joe Barton, (R-TX), outlined what they are proposing as an alternative to the Waxman-Markey -- the Energy Production, Innovation, and Conservation Act, which has not yet been formally introduced [See WIMS 5/15/09]. Republicans are expected to offer a large number of amendments to the Waxman-Markey bill; and a complete substitute.

Waxman said, "The legislation will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, promote America's energy independence and security, and cut global warming pollution. In support of these goals, this legislation ensures that consumers and industries in all regions of the country are protected. I look forward to working with all members of the Committee to approve this legislation to make America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies." Markey said, "This bill marks the dawn of the clean energy age. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revive our economy and create millions of good-paying clean energy jobs. After months of hearings and discussions with my colleagues, I am pleased that we have produced a bill that has widespread support from all regions of the country."

The formal release of the 932-page bill Friday followed a release earlier the same day of a document summarizing how the emission allowances would be allocated in the current version of the bill [See WIMS 5/15/09]. The bill has been referred to the Waxman's Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Education and Labor, Science and Technology, Transportation and Infrastructure, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) commented on the latest version of the bill saying, "This bill can win not only the support of environmentalists and business, but also the diverse group of regional interests that make up the Congress. It's a watershed agreement. The bill includes an important and aggressive short-term target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 -- right in the middle of the range called for by the 30 leading companies and non-profit groups in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership [USCAP], of which EDF is a member.

"The agreement delivers a strong cap on pollution with a smart plan to protect family budgets and economic competitiveness, and that's precisely the formula we need. The latest government study of the Waxman-Markey bill estimates that the emissions cap can be achieved for as little as $98 per household per year -- about a dime a day per person -- if the legislation is designed to keep costs down. Importantly, more than half of the value of emissions permits under the agreement will be used to protect consumers and keep utility rates low. In the early years of the program, it will allocate permits at no cost to regulated local electricity and natural gas distributors, which will pass the value of the permits directly to households. Permit value will also be used to keep energy-intensive U.S. industries competitive. Ultimately, all permits under the cap will be auctioned."

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) did an analysis of the latest draft and commented that, "Congressmen Waxman and Markey have done an admirable job satisfying a lot of competing interests. But now, as the bill moves forward, Congress needs to strengthen many of the bill's provisions to ensure that we dramatically cut emissions, save consumers money, and strengthen our economy with a well-designed climate and energy policy." UCS reviewed the allocation categories listed by the committee. Below is the group's assessment, including its estimates of how much money Congress would allocate. (Note: Based on a projected carbon price of $17 per ton in 2020, when most emissions sources will be covered under the bill, each 1 percent of allowance allocation would be worth approximately $750 million.)

Access a brief announcement from Waxman and Markey (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 2454 (click here). Access the complete statement from EDF (click here). Access a release with a summary of the UCS allocation analysis (click here). Access the Committee website for a link to the live video (click here).