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Archive for May 15th, 2009

This afternoon Waxman and Markey finally formally introduced H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Up to now, they’ve just been circulating an unofficial ‘discussion draft’, but now that we’ve got some actual language (932 pages of it), we’ve got a better idea of the bill’s specifics.

And it looks like some of the specifics are significantly watered down from the original draft, largely thanks to Texas’ own Congressmen Charlie Gonzalez and Gene Green.  According to a CongressDaily article, “Waxman To Release Draft Text After Striking Late Deals,”

Eyeing the start of the bill’s markup Monday, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman struck a deal early this morning with Texas Reps. Gene Green and Charles Gonzalez that strips out a low-carbon fuels mandate and hands out credits to petroleum refiners amounting to 2 percent of all emissions under the bill’s cap-and trade-program from 2014-26. The deal might be enough to get Green, Gonzalez and perhaps other oil-patch Democrats on board. Green called the deal “a reasonable first step to protecting our energy infrastructure and keeping good-paying jobs here at home.”

The thrust of the bill, and how it differeniates from the drafts, is as follows:

  • 17% emissions cut from 2005 levels by 2020 (instead of 20%)
  • giving away 85% of allowances and auctioning just 15%

Unfortunately, this kind of means that no one has to really cut their emissions for 20 years.  Which is disappointing, to say the least. You can see how these allowances will allocated here.

The good news is that, though the bill is compromised… we’ve got a real carbon bill introduced! The bad news is… it isn’t nearly strong enough to create the economic revolution we need to really address the carbon crisis.  Now, the bill won’t go through markup until early next week, which could mean that there is a chance it could be strengthened… but it is more likely that in order to pass the whole House, it may be weakened even more.

Heavy news for a Friday, I know.  It can’t be all good news all the time.  We’ll keep you updated on the status of this bill through markup.

Have hope, my friends.  It ain’t over til the fat lady sings.

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Check out the following statement from Common Cause railing on the energy industry for exerting undue influence over the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  I can’t say I’m surprised to hear that energy interests gave an average$107,230 in campaign contributions to Energy and Commerce committee members, nearly twice as much than any other member of the House — but I can say that I’m disappointed.  When our leaders receive this kind of money from the very industries they’re supposed to regulate, you’ve got to wonder who they’re really working for.  Cheers to Common Cause for not pulling any punches.

On eve of climate debate, energy industry opens wallet

Statement of Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause, on energy industry influence on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

As the House Committee on Energy and Commerce begins debate on a draft energy bill, an immediate and intense battle over whether this bill can pass in Congress is likely. Energy and climate change issues are high on the minds of the American people and were debated aggressively during the 2008 elections. The public demands action and deserves it.

The energy industry has already been active, though, and the American people similarly deserve to see how the industry – whose profits and future depend on decisions made in Congress, particularly the Energy and Commerce committee – has exerted tremendous influence over this debate already through targeted campaign contributions and massive lobbying expenditures.

A Common Cause analysis revealed that major energy interests contributed more than twice as much to Energy and Commerce committee members’ campaigns, on average, than to other members of Congress. Committee members received an average of $107,230 in campaign cash from the energy sector in the last election, while their non-committee counterparts collected an average of $46,539, a difference of over 130 percent.

The largest player in the energy sector, electric utilities like Southern Company and Duke Energy, had the most pronounced targeting of its campaign contributions. The average Energy and Commerce committee member received $49,495 from electric utility interests alone in the 2008 cycle, while a non-committee member received an average of $18,579, a difference of over 160 percent.

It’s an old adage that money follows power in Washington, but that refrain takes on new meaning – and potentially dangerous consequences – when the wealthy special interests are clearly poised to exert enormous influence over a decision as crucial as how to tackle energy independence, green jobs, and a warming planet. (more…)

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untitledFor more information on the Carbon Caps = Hard Hats campaign, check out thecapsolution.org

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