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The Waxman-Markey Energy Legislation
Yesterday, Representatives Waxman and Markey, Chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committe and Energy and Environment Subcommittee, respectively, introduced draft energy legislation. The ambitious bill lays out a sweeping agenda for energy reform that shows the intensity of commitment in this Congress to energy reform and dramatically increases the chance for passage of important energy legislation this year. Today, the White House endorsed the legislation, further increasing the chances of action.
Key proposals include a cap and trade system to reduce emissions 83% by 2050, modernization of the grid, a renewable portfolio standard and support for new energy technologies including the politically important one of clean coal. Coming on the heels of the major investments in clean energy included in the $787 billion ARRA legislation passed earlier this year, America is on the verge of the largest transition in energy priorities in our history--away from carbon based energy--toward new cleaner forms of energy.
Speaker Pelosi has already signaled her intent to move the legislation forward in the House where it will likely pass. As usual, the key battleground will be the Senate where cap and trade legislation appears to be about four to five votes short of the 60 needed for cloture. If cap and trade falls short, the Senate could move forward on the energy portions of a bill. However, this would weaken the US negotiating position in Copenhagen next year. Bringing a few more Senators on board is thus the key to comprehensive action.
The four titles of the bill map the major countours of the energy discussion, support for clean energy and clean technology including electric cars and a modernized grid, energy efficiency, a cap and trade system to limit heat-trapping pollutants and a transition title to minimize the disruptive impact of change this large on industry and consumers.
In addition to the Waxman-Markey bill, a variety of bills on the smart grid, grid modernization, renewable fuels, energy writ large and the reduction of carbon emissions through cap and trade or a carbon tax are also in play. Some, such as Senator Harry Reid's transmission bill and Senator Bingaman's energy legislation have the imprimateur of highly influential legislators.
While the Waxman Markey draft legislation is not designed to be the final say and leaves some details unspecified, we at NDN look forward to working with these leaders, the Administration and others to advance the legislation's critical energy goals.
The time has never been more ripe for moving America and the world decisively away from the carbon-laden fuels of the 19th and 20th Centuries toward a new, low carbon, renewable energy future. That, in turn, should help drive the next great wave of economic growth one would expect from a major leap forward in the single most import imput--after people--in the economy, energy.