Economic recession, swine flu, and war in the Middle East dominate the headlines, but historic climate legislation is currently being introduced in the House’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee. The Waxman-Markey climate bill must pass through the subcommittee in order to get the opportunity to be passed through the Energy and Commerce Committee.
In general, it seems that the bill is much as you’d imagine – a good start, but not all that we hoped for. It has decent targets, a 20% less carbon from 2005 levels by 2020, 42% less by 2030, and 80% by 2050. Of its problems, one of the major ones is 2 billion tons of carbon offsets, a large number considering that U.S. green house gas emissions were 7.2 billion tons. Another important component of the bill is 15% of the cap-and-trade allowances will go to industries which are most likely to be negatively affected because of international competition. This wise measure protects vital metal, glass, chemical, and paper industries, to name a few.
This is an extremely important piece of legislation to closely follow as it moves through subcommittee and committee. It would invigorate an already robust and growing renewable energy market, change consumer behavior, and slow and minimize the drastic climatic changes we’re facing. It is also a timely piece of legislation, considering we are getting closer to the Copenhagen meetings as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. One of government’s roles is to make regulations to ensure the safety of the community when there is a market failure; this bill provides the framework for such action.