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Waxman and Markey Jumpstart House Clean Energy Discussion

Frances Beinecke

Posted March 31, 2009

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Today Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey released draft legislative language that could propel America into a clean energy future, cut global warming pollution, and create millions of jobs in the process. This is a welcome development, because even though President Obama has exhibited strong leadership on climate, America won't be able to confront global warming without decisive action from Congress.

The Waxman -Markey draft is a good starting point for the new Congress, and no doubt it will be debated and revised in the coming weeks. As chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Waxman is committed to passing a bill through his committee by Memorial Day, and Speaker Pelosi has promised a vote by the full House soon after. This is important, because time is short.   

All the scientific data we have on global warming point toward the need for urgent action. Now the economic data is telling us the same thing. We need bold steps right now to pass a climate bill that will prevent the worse climate impacts and help power our economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in green energy investment and creating good-paying green jobs right here in America.

Energy production and use touches every aspect of our economy, and refashioning our energy system into something cleaner and more sustainable will generate economic growth all across the nation. This includes weatherizing our homes, building more efficient cars, building a smart electric grid, laying down public transit systems, and writing the software to engineer it all. It will require the work of engineers, automobile manufacturers, construction workers, software developers, architects, and hard-working Americans of all stripes.  

Support is growing for this kind of clean transformation. From the  oval office in the White House to the board rooms of the business-environmental coalition called the US Climate Action Partnership--including companies like  GE, Duke Energy, and Alcoa --political and business leaders see the economic potential in tackling global warming and shifting to clean energy.

Just last Friday,  a labor-environmental partnership--the Blue Green Alliance, made up of  the United Steelworkers Union, the Communications Workers of America, Laborers' International Union of North America, and the Service Employees International Union, NRDC, and the Sierra Club--added its voice to those calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive climate law by the end of this year.

Action this year is critical. Our economy, our workers, and our environment need this kind of jumpstart. Why delay any longer before unleashing the benefits of a clean energy economy?

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Bruce PetersonApr 1 2009 03:40 AM

While i agree that we need a new energy direction, I am not in favor of these government sponsored plans. the governement has a poor track record on cost on its plans. There are many companies ready to work on better wind and solar plants. They actually need government to get out of the way. It is not fair that the government work against industry. Just look at nuclear energy. Its safe and clean and without the governement preventing its use we have contributed to much so called global warming. If congress and federal governement had not been stopping progress we woould have already reduced carbon emissions by probably 20 %. Bruce

James HandleyApr 2 2009 05:33 PM

Yes, the climate crisis is extremely urgent. But Waxman-Markey's 748-page draft isn't likely to fly.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn), chair of the House Democratic Caucus has introduced a much simpler alternative. Larson's 17-page bill proposes to "tax what we burn, not what we earn" -- tax carbon fuels at the first point of sale and use the proceeds to reduce payroll taxes.

A clear, predictable, gradually-increasing price signal is essential to transform our fossil fuel economy into a more efficient, clean energy economy. Experience and simple economics teach us that without that price signal, regulations and government programs won't make a dent in this global problem.

A clear upward-trending price on carbon pollution would create the promise of profits for energy conservation and renewables, making much of Waxman and Markey's proposal superfluous.

See Petitions and video at

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