House Energy Leaders Unveil Green Economy Legislation

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA) have unveiled green economy legislation today that will set national standards for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and global warming pollution — but leaves open whether polluters will be subsidized to achieve those standards.

Green economy legislation is needed now, for three key reasons:

Repowering A Healthy Economy. According to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a federal standard requiring all utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 would create 297,000 new domestic jobs and save consumers $64.3 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills. Clean energy standards will reduce the 24,000 premature deaths, 550,000 asthma attacks, and 38,000 heart attacks caused each year by power plant pollution, disproportionately hurting vulnerable children and the elderly.

Restoring Economic Leadership. Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr warned Congress in January that “of the top 30 companies in solar, wind, and advanced battery technologies in the world today, only six of them are U.S. firms.” Doerr called for “a predictable price tag be put on greenhouse gases in order to encourage the massive investment and innovation necessary to make the American economy competitive in coming years.”

Stopping Global Catastrophe. The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has devised this visual representation of the risks of global temperature rise if we don’t implement green economy policies. Any rise over 2°C carries high risks of worldwide devastation.


Waxman and Markey are releasing their discussion draft today, with an aggressive schedule to get the legislation to the House floor in less than two months:

— March 31, 2009: Discussion draft
— April 6 – 17: Representatives return home for spring district work period
— Week of April 20: Hearings
— Week of April 27: Energy and Environment subcommittee mark up
— Week of May 4: Full committee hearing
— May 11: Full committee mark up begins

House Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) told E&E News that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “plan floor votes in both chambers by the end of July,” with a conference “by the end of the fall.”


At Climate Progress, Joe Romm writes: “A solid bill that boosts the economy, creates green jobs, and puts the country on a path to preserve a livable climate. Grade: B+.”

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,Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) responds:

Congressmen Waxman and Markey continue to provide invaluable leadership toward fulfilling President Obama’s goal of implementing a cap and trade system to limit carbon pollution. The only substantive questions remaining concern how this system is fashioned. I agree with President Obama’s call for auctioning 100% of allowances and using the revenues to help us transition to the clean energy economy. Giving away pollute-free cards defeats that objective. Additionally, our proposed Safe Markets Development Act offers a reasonable way to strengthen their proposal by addressing the legitimate concerns of those who fear manipulation and speculation of the carbon market.

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