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Historic Vote Moves America Closer to Clean Energy and Climate Solutions

Frances Beinecke

Posted May 22, 2009 in Green Enterprise, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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I felt like celebrating last night. After more than 10 years working to stop climate change, I welcomed this historic development: the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that will make significant investments in clean energy and reduce global warming pollution.

Not only did the bill clear a major hurdle on Thursday night--moving out of committee and closer toward the House floor. But it did so with the backing of lawmakers from across the nation, representing a wide range of energy needs. The bill was also endorsed by many environmental, business, labor, and other organizations.

I view this broad support as a testament to the bills immense economic and energy potential.

This bill has the power to jumpstart whole new industries, create millions of good-paying American jobs, and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in energy savings and benefits to low-income families. It will also demonstrate American leadership as the international community crafts a new agreement to protect our planet in Copenhagen later this year.

Thursday's vote was the culmination not just of a week of marathon debate within the committee, but months of negotiation and years of planning, strategizing, and mobilizing. Even before Waxman and Markey released their first draft in late March, an incredible team of NRDC experts were working with congressional staff on the policy details that shaped this nearly thousand-page bill. 

The vote last night is a validation of that work. It also validates the work NRDC has put into partnerships like US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) and the Blue-Green Alliance of environmentalists and labor unions. 

This victory is significant, but it is just the beginning of the huge effort that lies ahead to get a strong bill to the President's desk. 

Over the next couple of months the bill is expected to be referred to eight other House committees before going to the floor for a vote. While some committees do not plan on scrutinizing the bill, others will consider it carefully, so our team will be tracking these deliberations closely. If everything goes as planned and the bill passes the floor vote, then the Senate will take up the bill in the fall and we start all over again. (See my recent post about the critical importance of getting a House vote before the August recess.)

I look forward to continuing to push toward a signing ceremony at the White House in the near future. 

 

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Comments

Bevan MansonMay 24 2009 05:06 AM

I write to express much concern about the "85%"of pollution credits to be given away for free over the next 20 years as apparently written in the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Doesn't this negate some of the good NRDC and others are trying to do to advance the most effective anti-pollution legislation? It would seem that some utility companies and energy companies would not have
to reduce their carbon footprint.
Didn't Chairman Waxman and Subcommittee Chair Markey's original statements on climate differ on this aspect before this bill was formulated?
Could you please blog on this topic?
Thank you.

Dr. James SingmasterMay 25 2009 12:19 AM

Unfortunately, this bill will do less than nothing to get control of global warming as it does propose any means to remove some of the overloads of carbon dioxide and energy still growing in the biosphere. I suggest checking my comment #2 on the Greeninc Blog NYTimes April 22 on the write-up about the climate bill. Just cutting emissions even 75% means that 25% will still be adding to the GHG overload. And will still allow most heat energy to expand the energy overload without control. In case you are wondering about the energy overload, check the review by Dr. E. Chaisson titled "The Heat to Come" on New Scientist online, Environment section, April 6 or his paper mentioned there in Eos.
The time has come for some environmentalists to recognize that much more is involved than just curbing vehicle and power plant emissions. I can not understand how NRDC staff do not recognize the unneeded reemitting of GHGs that occurs with present handling of organic wastes and sewage solids. Dr. J. Singmaster

Dr. James SingmasterMay 25 2009 12:35 AM

I have to correct my comment above as the first sentence should have read "Unfortunately, this bill will do less than nothing to get control of global warming as it does NOT propose any means..." as that was what I had meant to be writing but did not catch leaving the "not" out. Dr. J. Singmaster

Dr. James SingmasterMay 26 2009 06:49 PM

Another mistake on my comment above for the date of climate bill write-up on GreenInc, it was May 22.
Dr. J. Singmaster

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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