Saturday, May 23, 2009

American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009: Approved by Energy Committee, Now on to Other House Committees

Before the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009", which was approved in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21, goes to the full House for a vote, various provisions will be considered by up to eight other House committees.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said after the bill's passage by the Energy Committee, "The other committees of jurisdiction will soon bring forward their own contributions...I have asked these committees to work together and with the leadership to finalize this clean energy jobs package with the goal of having this package on the House floor as soon as possible."

The other committees are (in alphabetical order):
  • Agriculture
  • Education and Labor
  • Financial Services
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Natural Resources
  • Science and Technology
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Ways and Means
As reported by the BNA Daily Environment Report ("Focus Turns to Other House Committees, Timing of Floor Vote for Climate-Energy Bill," May 26, 2009), "The key hurdle for the [Act] may be in the Ways and Means Committee, where Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is expected to have broad jurisdiction over sections of the bill that raise or distribute revenue as well as provisions to protect trade sensitive industries." While the bill as written provides for 85 percent of the emissions allowances to be distributed for free, the other 15 percent of allowances will be auctioned and therefore generate some funds.

Another key committee will be Agriculture. Congressman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat and chair of the committee, has been openly hostile to the legislation so expect him to fight the ag sector's corner as best he can. (For some reason that has not always been entirely clear to me, the agriculture sector has historically tried to wiggle out of environmental legislation; it seems that the ag sector has never considered itself a "polluting" industry.) Recently, he said, "This stuff is going no place in the Senate.  They can do whatever they want with this, but I can tell you, there is no way this is going to pass" ("Obama Hails Emissions Vote But Bill Faces Battle," Financial Times, May 23, 2009).  (Hummmm.  It would seem that if Mr. Peterson wants to remain chair of the committee that he might want to tone down his unhappiness.)  At a minimum, it is reasonable to assume that the agricultural lobby will be begging "their" committee to throw a lifeline to farmers and ranchers.

To be sure, there is lots more to come on this historic piece of legislation.

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