Suggesting Amendments To Waxman-Markey Bill, 49 Lawmakers Call For A Stronger Green Economy

Ellison and PingreeA coalition of progressive organizations and lawmakers is calling for the passage of amendments to improve green economy legislation this week. Last month, 1Sky, MoveOn, Green For All, Sierra Club, Environment America, and the Energy Action Coalition agreed upon three top-priority amendments to improve the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454/H.R. 2998). The organizations drafted a letter to Speaker Pelosi, which garnered additional signatures from US Action, Acorn, Oxfam, Rock the Vote, Health Care Without Harm, and Democracia Ahora.

This coalition letter became the basis for a letter from progressive leaders Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), asking fellow members to join in their call for higher clean energy standards, stronger regulations for coal plants, and fewer giveaways to polluters:

Ensure More Clean Energy for America. Increase the Renewable Electricity Standard to 30 percent by 2020, combining renewable energy and energy efficiency to deliver more clean energy jobs to the U.S. economy more quickly. Utilities would have to achieve 17 percent mandatory renewables and 10 percent mandatory efficiency by 2020, while maintaining flexibility to do either with 3 percent.

Ensure that All Coal Plants Meet Strict Global Warming Emissions Standards. Maintain or strengthen existing authority under the Clean Air Act to establish limits for global warming emissions from coal plants.

Create More Clean Energy Jobs for America and Build Resiliency to Climate Change. Reduce allocations to polluting industries in order to supplement allowance accounts that would bolster green job development and protection of vulnerable communities that are impacted first and worst by climate change. Shave allocations from fossil fuel producers and redistribute to programs that deliver energy efficiency and renewable energy, create green jobs and train workers to fill them, and protect natural resources and vulnerable communities here and around the world.

The groups, also including the Progressive Democrats of America, collectively generated hundreds of thousands of emails, calls, visits and faxes to Congress asking for these strengthening amendments. The Pingree-Ellison letter has garnered 49 signatures, including a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Blue Dog Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Nearly all of the signatories are expected to vote for passage of the legislation when the vote comes Friday, no matter its final language, so this is primarily an opportunity for members to note they would prefer more equitable and stronger legislation, given the chance. That there are so few members of the House of Representatives willing to take even this soft stand on behalf of a just, green economy is a harsh judgment on the strength of the climate movement.

Signatories of the Pingree-Ellison letter:

Michael E. Capuano (D-MA)
Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY)
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
John Conyers Jr. (D-MI)
Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD)
Donna F. Edwards (D-MD)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Bob Filner (D-CA)
Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
John J. Hall (D-NY)
Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL)
Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY)
Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI)
Paul W. Hodes (D-NH)
Rush D. Holt (D-NJ)
Michael M. Honda (D-CA)
Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-IL)
Henry C. Johnson Jr. (D-GA)
Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)
James R. Langevin (D-RI)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Nita M. Lowey (D-NY)
Dan Maffei (D-NY)
Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)
Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Kendrick B. Meek (D-FL)
James P. Moran (D-VA)
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA)
John W. Olver (D-MA)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ)
John P. Sarbanes (D-MD)
Adam B. Schiff (D-CA)
Robert C. “Bobby’’ Scott (D-VA)
Joe Sestak (D-PA)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA)
Paul Tonko (D-NY)
Diane E. Watson (D-CA)
Robert Wexler (D-FL)
David Wu (D-OR)


Grist’s Kate Sheppard reports that improvements are being made around the edges of the bill, as the priority remains passage of the compromise made with industry-friendly Democrats like Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN):

“It doesn’t feel likely that there will be opportunities to offer amendments on the floor that are going to be the big fixes,” said Navin Nayak, director of the Global Warming Project at the League of Conservation Voters. “At this point, it’s more about meeting the deadline that they’ve set for the end of this week.”

Most of the big environmental organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Environmental Defense Fund, are holding to the “strengthen and pass” motto.

Sierra Club Energy and Global Warming Program Director David Hamilton told Grist he thinks that the bill will be amended to encourage more government purchasing of renewable energy. Hamilton said Waxman and Markey asked for suggestions on how to improve it without threatening the fragile compromise with Peterson. “They said give us things that won’t screw up the deal, but be creative about where you get them,” he said.

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