US house of representatives passes major climate change bill


From the NYT:


Published: June 26, 2009

WASHINGTON — The House passed legislation on Friday intended to address global warming and transform the way the nation produces and uses energy. The vote was the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change. The legislation, which passed despite deep divisions among Democrats, could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy, including electric power generation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

The bill’s passage, by 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats voting against it, also established a marker for the United States when international negotiations on a new climate change treaty begin later this year.

At the heart of the legislation is a cap-and-trade system that sets a limit on overall emissions of heat-trapping gases while allowing utilities, manufacturers and other emitters to trade pollution permits, or allowances, among themselves. The cap would grow tighter over the years, pushing up the price of emissions and presumably driving industry to find cleaner ways of making energy. – Read the full story here

And from the Huffington Post:

The climate change bill would reset drastically the way the U.S. government approaches the issue of regulating pollution. Instituting a cap and trade system, the bill aims to cut America’s production of greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050. The legislation also includes provisions to create alternative energy sources and cleaner technologies, as well as more efficient building standards.

In an effort to recruit the support of lawmakers sitting on the fence, its authors, prominent progressive Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Ed Markey (D-Mass), reduced goals for carbon emission reductions and threw in favors for the coal and agricultural industries.

The latter moves were, in part, responsible for the 11th-hour concerns over the bill’s passage. Progressive lawmakers balked at supporting legislation that they deemed to be watered down or insufficiently effective. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, in particular, proved to be particularly recalcitrant, pledging not to support the bill even if his amendments were accepted.

And a summary from the BBC:

Bill aims to cut emissions by 17% below the level in 2005 by 2020, then by 83% by 2050

Imposes national limits and requires polluters to acquire emissions permits

Permits are either free (85%) or bought at auction (15%)

Permits can be traded, allowing major polluters to offset surplus emissions

Read my related post on this bill here and summary articles about the cap-and-trade system here and here.

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