Environmentalists Split as House Panel Passes Sweeping Climate Change Bill
Last night, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a first-of-its-kind bill capping greenhouse gas emissions and installing minimum-use requirements on renewable fuels. The proposal aims to cut national emissions 17 percent by 2020 – a tamer standard than was originally proposed by Democratic leaders, who were forced to water down the bill to satisfy their industry-friendly colleagues.
The legislation has split the environmental community, with some groups applauding the bill as historic, while others are condemning it as a missed opportunity. Indeed, the National Wildlife Federation issued a statement last night calling the vote “the shot heard round the world.”
“It marks a historic turning point in climate politics that secures America’s role as a leader in the clean energy revolution,” said Joseph Mendelson, NWF’s director of global warming policy.
Others said it sounded more like a thud. A coalition of environmentalists and consumer advocates — including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Public Citizen — issued a reaction of their own, blasting the proposal as a gift to the energy industry at the expense of the earth. In a joint statement, the groups said the problem of climate change is too pressing — and too global — to settle for a compromise that caters to the very polluters who are exacerbating the problem.
The lives and livelihoods of 7 billion people worldwide will be affected by America’s response to the climate crisis. The response embodied in today’s bill is not only inadequate it is counterproductive.
The full House is expected to consider the bill sometime this summer.