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House panel advances global warming bill

I don’t typically post news feeds here but I am making an exception in this case. It appears that the House committee has passed the bill to implement the foolish cap and trade (carbon trading) bill. Let’s hope that the larger House is more wise but I have my doubts.

This story is from AP.

By DINA CAPPIELLO and H. JOSEF HEBERT

WASHINGTON (AP) Legislation imposing the first nationwide limits on the pollution blamed for global warming advanced in the House late Thursday, clearing a key committee despite strong Republican opposition.

The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the sweeping climate bill 33-25 after repeatedly turning back GOP attempts to kill or weaken the measure during four days of debate.

The panel’s action increases the likelihood that the full House for the first time will address broad legislation to tackle climate change later this year. The Senate has yet to take up the issue.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the panel’s chairman, said the bill represents “decisive and historic action” to increase America’s energy security and deal with global warming. “When this bill is enacted into law, we will break our dependence on foreign oil, make our nation the world leader in clean energy jobs and technology, and cut global-warming pollution,” said Waxman.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has promised to press for passage of climate legislation this year, but prospects remain uncertain, especially in the Senate. President Barack Obama has told Congress he too wants a bill this year, ahead of international climate talks in December.

The House bill requires factories, refineries and power plants to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and six other greenhouse gases by roughly 80 percent by mid-century and hasten the nation’s energy shift away from fossil fuels by putting a price on carbon dioxide releases.

Only one Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California crossed party lines in support of the bill. Four Democrats voted against it. She said that while she had concerns about the bill, including its cost, the country can’t wait “to make needed changes to our energy policy.”

Waxman had vowed to get the 946-page bill out of his committee before Memorial Day. Pressure on lawmakers to leave for the holiday recess pushed the committee to wrap up late Thursday after considering more than 80 amendments, 56 of them from Republicans and many designed to weaken or kill the bill.

“The American people are overwhelming calling for a new direction … to take action in a way that changes forever our relationship with imported oil, with the loss of jobs overseas, with the pollution that is causing greenhouse gas warming on our planet,” said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a co-sponsor of the bill.

Republicans argued that the pollution cuts would lead to soaring energy prices and threaten economic growth by imposing new costs on energy intensive industries already facing economic hardships.

“We don’t want to put the economy in jeopardy,” said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the committee’s ranking Republican. He offered an alternative that would have scrapped the cap on greenhouse gases and pollution trading scheme, provide more incentives for nuclear energy and bolster research into capturing carbon from coal-burning power plants. It was defeated 35-19.

Barton said he had “serious concern about the redirection of our energy policy in America.”

“For the sake of our nation I hope to some degree you are right. I’m afraid that you’re not. We will see,” Barton told Waxman minutes before the vote.

To ease the economic impact, supporters of the bill said, the government would issue pollution allowances, or permits, to businesses that could be traded on the open market. The bill calls for giving away 35 percent of the pollution permits to electric utilities that otherwise would likely pass the additional costs onto consumes. The government also would sell 15 percent of the allowances and use the money to provide direct relief to consumers.

“It is very clear that ratepayers are going to be protected,” Waxman insisted.

To get the support of Democrats from coal and industrial states, Waxman agreed to give away significant emissions allowances to industries in their states, including the electric utilities, steel manufactures, automakers and refineries. Waxman also scaled back the required greenhouse gas reductions between now and 2020 from 20 percent to 17 percent. And he eased the requirement for utilities to use renewable energy such as wind and solar for electricity production.

Democrats also added language to create a clean energy bank to disperse grants for new forms of energy and inserted a “cash for clunkers” program that would provide rebates to consumers who turn in gas guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient cars.

The bill is H.R. 2454.

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2 Responses to “House panel advances global warming bill”

  1. Sean,

    When I read the article I felt like I should be able to laugh. The reason that I am unable to laugh is the realization that it is our own Congress who apparently wants to play this truly sad, really sick joke on the American people.

    Corruption is so deeply entrenched in Washington and within our political system that it permeates throughout the culture of our Federal Government.

    I don’t think either of our duopoly political parties is necessarily any better than the other; they’re just corrupt in different ways.

  2. Tom –

    Maybe it is my libertarian bent but I doubt that there are few things that the government can do better than private enterprise aside from protection (military and civil) and infrastructure. My preference is that the government would stay out of my life as much as possible.