House Dems Unveil American Clean Energy and Security Act

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Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the important House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, on Tuesday unveiled The American Clean Energy and Security Act

The bill is designed to hasten the United States’ move away from coal and foreign oil as well as capture heat-producing gasses. The New York Times said the bill’s provision on capping greenhouse gasses is “slightly more ambitious” than what President Obama proposed.

From The Times:

The bill requires that emissions be reduced 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, while Mr. Obama’s plan calls for a 14 percent reduction by 2020. Both would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases by roughly 80 percent by 2050.

The bill would require every region of the country to produce a quarter of its electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal by 2025. A number of lawmakers around the country, particularly in the Southeast, call that goal unrealistic because the natural resources and technology to meet it do not yet exist.

The bill also calls for modernization of the electrical grid, production of more electric vehicles and significant increases in efficiency in buildings, appliances and the generation of electricity.

“This legislation will create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution,” Waxman said in a statement. “Our goal is to strengthen our economy by making America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

“This legislation will create clean energy jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make America the global leader in energy technology. We will create jobs by the millions, save money by the billions, and unleash energy investment by the trillions,” Markey said in the same statement.

Here’s what the plan does not address, again from The Times:

But the Waxman-Markey proposal does not address two of the most difficult issues in any global warming plan: the distribution of pollution allowances and a specific timetable for achieving emissions reductions. It also does not say how most of the tens of billions of dollars raised from auctioning pollution permits would be spent, or whether the revenue would be returned to consumers to compensate for higher energy bills. 

Under Mr. Obama’s plan, roughly two-thirds of the revenue from pollution permit auctions would be returned to the public in tax breaks. Some members of Congress from both parties want to see all the revenue from any carbon-reduction plan returned to the public in some form.

The Energy and Commerce Committee will begin deliberating the bill on April 20 when Congress returns from Easter recess and is slated to finish consideration by Memorial Day.

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