Democratic Leaders Unveil Ambitious Energy and Climate Bill
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 11:29 am
The two leading House Democrats on environmental policy are expected to unveil a major energy and climate bill today with more ambitious goals than recent competing proposals, according to The New York Times.
The Times has caught wind of some of the details of the bill, drafted by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.). The legislation encompasses cap-and-trade, a national renewable electricity standard, a renewable energy standard and a low-carbon fuel standard.
On cap-and-trade, the bill sets the same goal as President Obama’s budget proposal for carbon emissions reduction by 2050: an 83 percent decrease. But the target for 2020 is more ambitious, aiming for a 20 percent cut from 2005 levels, compared with Obama’s 14 percent. Markey and Waxman also want a 42 percent reduction by 2030; Obama did not set a target for that year.
The renewable energy measure will call for utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2025, and up to one-fifth of this quota can be met with energy efficiency improvements. The bill will also require power utilities to improve their efficiency by 15 percent by 2020; for gas distributors, the requirement will be ten percent. Additionally, the legislation calls for a higher proportion of biofuels in the country’s fuel mix.
Overall, the bill sets broader and more stringent goals than Obama’s proposal, though the differences are relatively minor. Waxman and Markey’s legislation is also slightly more ambitious than a proposal outlined by the United States Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of environmental and business groups. The USCAP proposal called for a 14 to 20 percent emissions reduction by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, among other targets.
Waxman and Markey hope to vote the bill out of committee by June. Because it will still face debate in the Energy and Commerce Committee and eventually in conference with the Senate leadership, however, it is certain to undergo major changes — and no one really expects it to emerge in anything resembling its current, highly ambitious form.
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