Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Major Energy-Related Legislation Introduced in U.S. House

The introduction yesterday of "The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" marks the official beginning of Congressional consideration of issues ranging from encouraging clean energy development to establishing a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.

The measure establishes a particularly important starting place since it was drafted by two key members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Henry Waxman (D-Cal), chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward Markey (D-Mass), chairman of the Committee's Energy and Environment Subcommittee. Both congressmen are enthusiastic supporters of a cap-and-trade system.

The Act, which totals more than 600 pages, contains four titles:
  • Title I: Clean Energy
  • Title II: Energy Efficiency
  • Title III: Reducing Global Warming Pollution Through a Cap-and-Trade System
  • Title IV: Transitioning for a Clean Energy Economy

Among other things, the Act calls for:

  • Retail energy suppliers to generate 25% of their electricity from renewables by 2025
  • Establishment of a cap-and-trade system for electric utilities, oil companies, large industrial sources, and other entities that are responsible for 85% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions
  • The cap-and-trade system will reduce the number of emissions "allowances" issued each year to meet a combined target of 20% below 2005 levels in 2020 and 42% below 2005 levels in 2030

The importance of this measure cannot be understated since it reflects the House leadership's view of how a total energy package should be implemented.

On the other hand, the House Republican leader, John Boehner (R-Ohio), was quick to describe the bill as "the Democrats' national 'cap and trade' energy tax legislation." However, the reality is that with a big Democratic majority in the House whatever the House leadership wants is likely to make its way into the final bill passed in the House. When the measure moves to the Senate, it may be tougher sledding. Stay tuned...

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