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House Committee Release Draft Climate Bill

April 2, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

Electrical Substation

If you read my climate change primer, you know that House leaders were expected to push for a comprehensive energy package, tying together a climate change bill and legislation for a renewable energy standard, changes to nations electrical grid, and energy efficiency. On Tuesday, a draft of that House package was released by the Energy and Commerce Committee. Drafted by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Md.), it weighs in at over 600 pages; you can grab the summary (PDF) here.

The basics: an aggressive push to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. through a cap-and-trade program. The government would auction permits for carbon emissions, and set a limit on the amount companies could pollute. Companies that pollute less could sell their permits to those that produce more emissions, and the government would use the proceeds from the permit auction to fund wildlife protection, energy efficiency and other programs. As years pass, fewer permits would be issued, with an overall goal of reducing emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, with further reductions after that.

Of course, the cap-and-trade plan is just one aspect of the bill, which also aims to promote clean energy production, develop a new
“smart” energy grid, and increase energy efficiency in homes, office building and on roadways. The idea, as I mentioned in the primer, is to create a bill containing a number of Democratic initiatives, making it harder for caucus members to vote against cap-and-trade.

With little Republican support expected for the bill, securing Democratic votes on the legislation will be a priority. The big question should, again, be in the Senate. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is against a package approach, preferring to move each bill on its own. In a twist, he’s argued that packaging the bills together makes it more likely to see everything go down in defeat.

Decisions will have to come soon: Reps. Waxman and Markey have laid out an ambitious timeline for committee work on the bill following the upcoming two-week spring recess, and it might hit the full floor for a vote by June.

For more details on the bill, definitely see Kate Sheppard’s post in Grist.

Image (used under a Creative Commons license) by The Joy Of The Mundane.

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  • rhonda 04/04/2009 7:56pm
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    + -1

    Co2, the element plants take in to produce oxygen. Is not considered a harmful element. Carbon dioxide is used by plants during photosynthesis to make sugars which may either be consumed again in respiration or used as the raw material to produce polysaccharides such as starch and cellulose, proteins and the wide variety of other organic compounds required for plant growth and development. It is produced during respiration by plants, and by all animals, fungi and microorganisms that depend on living and decaying plants for food, either directly or indirectly. It is, therefore, a major component of the carbon cycle. Carbon dioxide is generated as a by-product of the combustion of fossil fuels or the burning of vegetable matter, among other chemical processes. Large amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted from volcanoes and other geothermal processes such as hot springs and geysers and by the dissolution of carbonates in crustal rocks.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 04/06/2009 7:07pm
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    + -1

    Carbon dioxide is not the target of cap and trade. That would be cabon momoxide.

  • Comm_reply
    skrap 05/13/2009 1:41pm

    No, the target is any greenhouse gas, in particular carbon dioxide and methane.

  • Comm_reply
    skrap 05/13/2009 1:47pm

    “Is not considered a harmful element.”

    By whom? Climate scientists long ago proved that as more carbon dioxide gets into the air, the climate warms. When we take coal, oil, and natural gas out of the ground and burn it, it increases the portion of the atmosphere made of carbon dioxide.

    • The planet is warming, and that warming is caused by mankind’s burning of coal, oil, and natural gas.
    • We are at a tipping point. If we quickly phase out the majority of the burning of these fuels, we can slow or stop the warming.
    • If we do nothing, or not enough, the climate will significantly change, and it will be horrible for nearly everyone. Billions will starve. You may be one of them.

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