Monday, June 29, 2009

ACES Climate-Energy Bill Passes House By 2 Votes; But. . .?

Jun 26: the House passed the Waxman-Markey, American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES, HR 2454) which the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said will "revitalize our economy by creating millions of new jobs, increase our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and preserve our planet by reducing the pollution that causes global warming." The bill which needed 218 votes to pass received only 219 votes. 168 Republicans and 44 Democrats -- or 212 -- voted against the bill. Last minute negotiations and deals were necessary to get the 219 votes and many are still trying to figure out the details of what was passed.

In a joint summary statement from the bill sponsors, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, “Today we have taken 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. After more than three decades of being held hostage to the influence of foreign energy suppliers, this legislation at long last begins to break our addiction to imported foreign oil and put us on a path to true energy security.” Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) said, “Today the House has passed the most important energy and environment bill in our nation’s history. Scientists say that global warming is a dangerous man-made problem. Today we are saying clean energy will be the American-made solution. This legislation will create jobs by the millions, save money by the billions and unleash investment in clean energy by the trillions.”

On the floor, the Speaker said, “No matter how long this Congress wants to talk about it, we cannot hold back the future. And so, in order to move on with the future, I want to yield back my time, submit my statement for the record, and urge my colleagues to vote for this important legislation. And when you do, just remember these four words for what this legislation means: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs. Let’s vote for jobs.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) staged a mini-filibuster when he randomly flipped through the bill and read isolated passages and questioned the language for over an hour prior to the final vote. Later Boehner called the bill a "pile of s--t" and said, "The legislation is going to raise electricity prices, increase gasoline prices, and ship American jobs overseas to countries like China and India. It also will be a bureaucratic nightmare overseen by a confusing web of government agencies that will take and redistribute trillions of dollars from family budgets and workers’ payrolls."

While many observers are saying the bill does not have a chance in the Senate, President Obama commented on the passage positively saying, "Today, the House of Representatives took historic action with the passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. It's a bold and necessary step that holds the promise of creating new industries and millions of new jobs; decreasing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil; and strictly limiting the release of pollutants that threaten the health of families and communities and the planet itself. Now it's up to the Senate to take the next step. And I'm confident that in the coming weeks and months the Senate will demonstrate the same commitment to addressing what is a tremendous challenge and an extraordinary opportunity.

"As always happens when we debate issues of this magnitude we see lines of demarcation. There are those who argue that the status quo is acceptable, those who would have us continue our dependence on foreign oil and our reliance on fossil fuels despite the risks to our security, our economy, and the planet. But the American people know that the nation that leads in building a 21st century clean energy economy is the nation that will lead in creating a 21st century global economy. I want America to be that nation. And with this vote, the House has put America on the path to being that nation.

"The fact is, just weeks ago, few in Washington believed that this day would come to pass. The best bet -- the safe bet -- was that after three decades of failure, we couldn't muster the political will to tackle the energy challenge despite the necessity and urgency of action. But although Washington may not see it yet, there is a spirit of change that's taken hold across this country. As has happened at every critical juncture in our history, the American people are demanding that we abandon the failed policies and politics of the past; we no longer accept inaction; that we face up to the challenges of our time. And today, the House has done exactly that."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a brief statement following passage of the bill in the House and said, “The House has taken a courageous step toward a safer and cleaner energy future that will create good jobs, reduce pollution and decrease our dependence on foreign and unsustainable sources of energy. The bill is not perfect, but it is a good product for the Senate and our Committees to start considering and begins the nation's inevitable movement to clean and abundant renewable energy and away from harmful and inefficient use of fossil fuels. Working with the President and his team, I am hopeful that the Senate will be able to debate and pass bipartisan and comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this fall.”

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) said, "Congratulations to Congressional leaders for passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act. There are very few bills that we pass that trigger so many benefits for the American people -- energy efficiency, new jobs, cleaner air, healthier families, and energy independence. This bill gives us the momentum we need in the Senate, and signals that when we promised change for the better in America, we meant it."

Ranking Member on the Senate EPW Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said, "Today's razor thin vote in the House spells doom in the Senate. Despite a large Democratic majority in the House, and the fact that this is one of the President's top priorities, the Democratic leadership was forced to do everything possible to get a bill passed. Their slim victory could come at a high price -- this is the BTU tax all over again. . . The Waxman-Markey bill is just the latest incarnation of cap-and-trade legislation that will destroy American jobs by pushing them overseas, force consumers to shoulder the burden of higher gasoline and electricity prices, and drastically increase the size and scope of the federal government. . ."

Most environmental and conservation groups applauded passage of the bill, while major business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill. As an example, the Chamber said, "The 'American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009' (H.R. 2454), a 1,200-page behemoth consisting of a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, a federal renewable electricity mandate, and a suite of new mandatory energy efficiency standards, will impose 397 new federal regulations (which require traditional federal agency rulemakings) and 1060 new mandates on an American public already overwhelmed by extensive federal regulation."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "While passing the bill through the House took hard work and compromises on many sides, this is strong and vital legislation that Congress needs to deliver to the President's desk this year. This bill will help create new jobs in manufacturing and clean technology. It will increase energy efficiency, help consumers save on energy bills, and protect lower-income families. And it will finally put our country on a course to limit the carbon pollution that causes global warming."

According to a summary of highlights from Waxman and Markey, the bill contains the following key provisions:

  • Requires electric utilities to meet 20% of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020.
  • Invests $190 billion in new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including energy efficiency and renewable energy ($90 billion in new investments by 2025), carbon capture and sequestration ($60 billion), electric and other advanced technology vehicles ($20 billion), and basic scientific research and development ($20 billion).
  • Mandates new energy-saving standards for buildings, appliances, and industry.
  • Reduces carbon emissions from major U.S. sources by 17% by 2020 and over 80% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. Complementary measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon emissions.
  • Protects consumers from energy price increases. According to recent analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and the Environmental Protection Agency, the legislation will cost each household less than 50 cents per day in 2020 (not including energy efficiency savings).

Access details of the roll call vote (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 2454 (click here). Access a release from Waxman-Markey (click here). Access a release from the Speaker with links to summaries, full text, videos, her statement and more information on the bill (click here). Access links to several statements from Minority Leader Boehner (click here). Access the statement from President Obama (click here). Access a statement from Senate Majority Leader Reid (click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer (click here). Access the statement from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a release and links to additional information from the Chamber (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here).Access links to the Committee report, full text of the bill, amendments submitted and related information on the vote from the House Rules Committee (click here).