Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill Advances

Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill Advances

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) formally introduced the latest version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (PDF) today, paving the way for the bill to move toward the markup stage Monday.

The congressmen hope to have the bill ready for a full House vote by the end of next week. The bill aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and would give away up to 85 percent of the pollution permits in a proposed cap-and-trade program.

Here is the breakdown of the permit allocation:
•  15 percent of the carbon permits will be auctioned off (proceeds will go toward helping low- and moderate-income families)
The rest will be given away as follows:
•  35 percent for electric utility sector, including 30 percent for distribution companies and 5 percent for privately owned coal companies
•  15 percent for carbon-intensive industries, such as steel and cement, in 2014 (reduced by 2 percent every year)
•  10 percent for states for renewable energy and efficiency investment from 2012 to 2015 (reduced to 5 percent between 2016 to 2022)
•  9 percent for local natural gas distribution companies (reduced to zero between 2026 and 2030)
•  5 percent for tropical deforestation projects
•  3 percent for automakers toward advanced technologies through 2017 (reduced to 1 percent from 2018 and 2025)
•  2 percent for domestic adaptation to climate change between 2012 and 2021 (increases to 4 percent between 2022 to 2026, to 8 percent in 2027)
•  2 percent for international adaptation and clean technology transfer from 2012 to 2021 (increases to 4 percent between 2022 to 2026, to 8 percent in 2027)
•  2 percent for carbon capture and storage technology from 2014 and 2017 (increases to 5 percent after 2018)
•  2 percent for oil refineries from 2014 to 2026
•  1.5 percent for programs helping home heating oil and propane users (reduced to zero between 2026 and 2030)
•  1 percent for Clean Energy Innovation Centers for R&D funding
•  0.5 percent for job training from 2012 to 2021 (increases to 1 percent after 2022)

There is a combined renewable energy and energy efficiency standard of 20 percent by 2020 (15 percent for renewable energy and 5 percent in energy efficiency). If a state cannot meet the requirement, its governor may cut the renewable target to 12 percent and boost the energy efficiency goal to 8 percent.

"This bill marks the dawn of the clean energy age," said Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) in a statement.  "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revive our economy and create millions of good-paying clean energy jobs.”

The bill, however, has some environmental groups expressing concern or outright rejection.

"Congressmen Waxman and Markey have done an admirable job satisfying a lot of competing interests,” Liz Perera, Washington representative for Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate Program in a statement. “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."

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and TheCLEAN.org coalition are calling for politicians to dump the bill and start over.

“Despite the best efforts of Chairman Waxman, this bill has been seriously undermined by the lobbying of industries more concerned with profits than the plight of our planet,” Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford said in a statement. “While science clearly tells us that only dramatic action can prevent global warming and its catastrophic impacts, this bill has fallen prey to political infighting and industry pressure."

Image CC-licensed by Flickr user cliff1066.