Thursday, June 4, 2009

Keeping everyone focused on passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

Do any of you in Washington politics envisage that we will at this time of the year be having a debate over the underlying tenets of Waxman-Markey bill? Maybe not, especially when you look at the goal of the bill: capping and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. You imagine every one will be on this one at this time. Not exactly! I became more interested in this bill when it struggled through the voting process in the Federal House. From the voting results, I knew that we were really up for a big fight and that we cannot just rely on a few of the legislatures from either political parties to get this bill passed. Many of the critics of Waxman-Markey hinge their arguments on the disadvantages of cap-and-trade part of the bill. So contentious is this part of the bill that some democrats supporting the bill want some of its greenhouse gas emissions goal drawn back. The initial bill set an 83% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions by 2050 at the 2005 rate. Current negotiations to ensure that the bill passes seek incremental objectives: 20% reduction by 2020 and 42% reduction by 2030. As good as these compromises sound, one may wonder if in fact a draw back on the goal of the bill will actually serve the interest of all Americans. Compromises are great tools in achieving your ultimate goal in representative politics however, if the disadvantages of such compromises far outweigh their benefits, it may just be necessary to look elsewhere for support. For now, one is playing the field, trying to understand what senators or legislatures are unto when fanning the “gradualism” theory as a compromise item in the process of either killing the bill or helping the bill become law of the land. Ensuring that the bill passes through both houses of legislatures with little opposition or fanfare, is the immediate goal of refocusing peoples’ attention toward the bill and guaranteeing that doubting Thomas’s are onboard in earnest and are actually conceding their past skepticism. It is also the reason why lobby groups are asking voters to call their congressmen, to ensure that they are totally committed to voting in support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

As it stands today, compromises are already being written into the bill, like minimizing the impact of climate legislation on workers and some industries, tasking the executive branch to establish guidelines for the operation of the carbon market to prevent fluctuation in price of carbon permits, and allowing companies to meet part of their emissions-reductions targets by using offsets protocol which does not firm very well with the spirit of the bill. These and other extensive compromises have propped some environmental groups in Washington State to put out clarion call for help from voters to call their legislature to: 1) ensure more clean energy for America and increases in renewable electricity standard to 30% by the year 2020; 2) restore the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions from coal; and, 3) reduce the number of free pollution permits to polluter and using the proceeds to create cleaner energy jobs. Whose effort of these two opposing camps will pay off, will not be known until we see the final bill to signed into law by the President.

If we rely on the comments of Chairmen Waxman and Markey, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, is a comprehensive approach to America’s energy policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy. To meet its goal, the Act has been subdivided into four titles: 1) a clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequential technologies, low-carbon fuels, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission; 2) An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation and industry; 3) A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants; and 4) A transitioning title that protects American consumers and industry and promote green jobs. One may find the conviction to this bill in the comments made by the Chairman of the energy and commerce committee: With this Act, it will be possible to create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path of energy independence and cut global warming pollution. To Chairman Waxman's comments, I whole heartedly say: Amen.
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