Friday, May 22, 2009

House Committee Approves Waxman-Markey ACES (H.R. 2454) 33 To 25

May 21: Following the marathon, 4-day markup session, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), by a vote of 33 to 25, at about 8:30 PM. In the end, 32 Democrats and 1 Republican voted for the Committee amended bill. Three Democrats voted against the bill: Mike Ross, AR; Jim Matheson, UT; and G.K. Butterfield, NC. The one Republican voting for the bill was Representative Mary Bono Mack, CA. Despite the mostly party-line vote, the Republican leadership on the bill, Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) and Fred Upton (R-MI), congratulated Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on his leadership, control and fairness in allowing the Republican minority to present and debate their amendments. The Republicans encouraged the Democrats to exercise the same leadership when the bill reaches the House Floor.

Chairman Waxman called the legislation "a comprehensive approach to America's energy policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy." He said, "Today the Committee took decisive and historic action to promote America's energy security and to create millions of clean energy jobs that will drive our economic recovery and long-term growth. This bill, when enacted into law this year, will break our dependence on foreign oil, make our nation the world leader in clean energy jobs and technology, and cut global warming pollution. I am grateful to my colleagues who supported this legislation and to President Obama for his outstanding leadership on these critical issues."

Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) said, "With this plan, we will shape a new energy destiny for our country, where we innovate more and pollute less. Today we have chosen bold action to preserve good paying jobs here in America and preserve our planet. In just eight weeks, Chairman Waxman and I, working with our entire committee, have moved us farther down the path toward energy independence than our country had moved in the past eight years."

According to a release from the Committee, the 900+ page ACES, will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America's energy independence, and cut global warming pollution. The Committee indicated that the legislation has received wide support from electric utilities; energy companies; manufacturing, industry, and corporate companies; labor unions; and community and environmental organizations.

To meet these goals, the legislation has four titles: (1) A clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission. (2) An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry. (3) A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants. The legislation would cut global warming pollution by 17% compared to 2005 levels in 2020, by 42% in 2030, and by 83% in 2050. These are science-based targets and within the range agreed to by the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) -- a diverse coalition of leading businesses and environmental NGOs. (4) A title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.

A release from Ranking Member Barton indicated that, "House Democrats used political muscle and party loyalty on Thursday to ram through an anti-global warming bill that opponents caution could cost a family of four $2,937.38 a year. The action came after a marathon committee session that spent 37 hours over four days methodically rejecting 56 separate Republican efforts to learn the full cost of the bill, to prevent scams in its trading system and even get the feds out of hot tubs."

Barton said, “We have legitimate and serious concerns about the redirection of our energy policy in America, which is the foundation and bedrock of our free market economy, the most productive and the largest in the world. A third of the world’s GDP is based on the United States economy and that economy for over 150 years has been based on a free market allocation of resources in the energy sector. This bill makes fundamental changes in that basic philosophy. One estimate puts its price per family of four at $29,373.85 over 10 years. Another estimate is that it will raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation, and boost gasoline prices 74 percent and natural gas prices 55 percent.”

On a macro level, Barton predicted that “a cap-and-trade program will never be made to work in an economy as diverse and complex as the United States. It’s just not possible, and trying to make it work is going to cost money and jobs. How many U.S. industries do we want to bankrupt in one markup, just to achieve a temperature impact of less than one degree Fahrenheit in the next 100 years?”

Republicans offered a major alternative substitute (See link below) to the ACES bill which was defeated by a vote of 35 no, 19 for, and 2 present. Barton said, “This substitute in any other Congress would be considered very progressive and very moderate. But because it still attempts to use the market system and the price mechanism to let people make free choices on which forms of energy to use and how to use them, it is not as directive and invasive by government as the pending legislation. It does not have a cap and trade program. We do accept that it would be better for the economy if we were less carbon-intensive, so instead of a cap-and-trade mechanism that’s very complicated, we take a page out of the current the law, the Clean Air Act, and set performance standards. We set a limit on the amount of CO2. This substitute is comprehensive. It would work. It would be good law.”

In a release from USCAP, the industry-environmental coalition said, "While the current bill does not reflect every USCAP recommendation - and in some instances addresses issues not considered in the Blueprint or in more detail than the Blueprint - it is a good foundation for moving forward in the Congress. As this process unfolds, we are committed to pursuing further opportunities to make the bill even more effective and economically sustainable. In the weeks ahead, USCAP and its members will be working actively with all members of Congress in both chambers and all parties to seek common ground - and to find common sense solutions. We are committed to a path forward that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect consumers and advance new technologies that will lead the transition to a low carbon economy."

USCAP members include: Alcoa - Boston Scientific - BP America - Caterpillar - Chrysler - ConocoPhillips - Dow - Duke Energy - DuPont - Environmental Defense Fund - Exelon - Ford - FPL Group - GE - GM - John Deere - Johnson & Johnson - Natural Resources Defense Council - The Nature Conservancy - NRG Energy - PepsiCo - Pew Center on Global Climate Change - PG&E - PNM Resources - Rio Tinto - Shell - Siemens - World Resources Institute - Xerox.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) issued a statement from President Jack Gerard saying, “While the bill has laudable environmental and economic goals, its inequitable system of allocations remains intact and if enacted would have a disproportionate adverse impact on consumers, businesses and producers of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, crude oil and natural gas. . . As a recent independent analysis shows, this inequitable approach, by itself, will produce additional unemployment, driving annual job destruction totals related to the legislation to more than one million. Another independent study projects job losses more than double this – up to 2.7 million net jobs lost annually, even with new green jobs created. According to one of these reports, an average family will pay an additional $1,500 a year for energy and 74 percent more for gasoline. Today, that would mean gasoline prices above $4.00 a gallon, an increase nearly equivalent to a ten-fold rise in the federal gasoline tax.”

A broad coalition of environmental and other advocacy groups indicated, "While a week of debate failed to adequately strengthen protections for consumers, communities, and the climate in this bill, it erased all doubt of who will benefit most from it: Big Business. Despite the best efforts of Chairman Waxman, the decision-making process was co-opted by oil and coal lobbyists determined to sustain our addiction to dirty fossil fuels, even as the country stands ready to rebuild our economy and clean up the environment with real clean energy. The resulting bill reflects the triumph of politics over science, and the triumph of industry influence over the public interest. . ."

The coalition (Greenpeace, et al) includes: Greenpeace USA * Friends of the Earth * Public Citizen * Citizen Power * Center for Biological Diversity * Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana * TURN—The Utility Reform Network * Sustainable Energy & Economy Network * Green Delaware * Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance * Massachusetts Forest Watch * Coal Moratorium Now! * Rainforest Action Network * International Rivers * Energy Justice Network.

Access a release from the Committee and link to the bill, supporting documents and the 4 individual days of markup including amendments and videos (click here). Access a lengthy release from Rep. Barton (click here). Access a release on the Republican alternative and link to a summary of the substitute (click here). Access a release from USCAP with links to additional information (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access a release from Greenpeace, et al (click here).