The U.S. House of Representatives approves landmark (bipartisan!) climate bill, 219 – 212. Waxman-Markey would complete America’s transition to a clean energy economy, which started with the stimulus bill.

UPDATE:  My Salon piece, “One brief shining moment for clean energy” is up.  We do need to savor moments like these, since, as I note in that article, given modern conservative ideology, which is 100% anti-conservation, “the country can only contemplate serious environmental legislation when we have the unique constellation of a Democratic president and [large] Democratic majorities in both houses, an occurrence far rarer than a total eclipse of the sun.

Every journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step “” including stopping human-caused global warming at “safe levels,” as close as possible to 2°C.

This bill would complete America’s transition to a clean energy economy, which was begun in the stimulus (see “EIA projects wind at 5% of U.S. electricity in 2012, all renewables at 14%, thanks to Obama stimulus!“).  Within four decades, the vast majority of American’s carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption will be replaced by the technologies discussed here:  “An introduction to the core climate solutions.”

This bill makes possible an international deal in Copenhagen this December — as well as a bilateral deal with China, hopefully sooner.  Had the bill failed, the chance of humanity avoiding catastrophic climate change would be all but eliminated.  As Nobelist Gore wrote earlier today, there was no “backup plan” to Waxman-Markey.   In this post, I will revise and extend the post I wrote after the bill passed the Energy and Commerce Committee (see “House committee approves landmark (bipartisan!) clean energy and climate bill “” political realists rejoice, climate science realists demand more“).

For climate-politics realists, the vote today is a staggering achievement.  Today was the first time the U.S. House of Representatives has ever voted on climate legislation.  This country hasn’t enacted a major economy-wide clean air bill since the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990.  And that bill had a cap-and-trade system where 97% of the permits were given to polluters.  And it focused on direct, obvious, short-term health threats to Americans.  And that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when the entire Republican establishment wasn’t dead set against any government led effort to reduce pollution.

Yet Waxman-Markey did get 8 Republican votes, which is 8 more than the stimulus bill got!  This bill needed Republican votes, which will also be true in the Senate.  The closeness of the House vote — with 44 Dems voting No — makes clear that the really hard work is yet to come.

And for those who say this doesn’t do enough — I agree 100%.  But then the original Clean Air Act didn’t do enough.  And the 1987 Montr©al protocol would not have stopped concentrations of ozone depleting substances from rising and thus would not have saved the ozone layer.  But it began a process and established a framework that, like the CAA, could be strengthened over time as the science warranted.  The painful reality of climate change is going to become increasingly obvious in the coming years, and strengthening is inevitable.

In the earlier post, I discussed the myriad forces lined up against serious climate action.  I won’t repeat that here, but instead want to excerpt something that David Corn wrote for Mother Jones, which states the climate-politics realist position very well — a position you might not associate with Corn and MJ:

So should progressives back this not-a-full-loaf bill? Matt Yglesias offers this hard-headed guidance: follow the Waxman. Citing a recent Charles Homans profile of Waxman (and you can see a Waxman profile I did a few years ago), he writes:

There’s simply nobody else in Congress whose record of progressive legislative accomplishments can hold a candle to Waxman’s. When you draw intersecting curves of “what needs to be done” and “what can realistically be done,” Waxman has time and again put himself at the intersection, and I think it involves a fair amount of hubris to think that you know better than him what the best feasible legislative outcome is.

I would add Representative Ed Markey to this equation. For decades, Markey has been a passionate champion of environmental and clean energy causes. A few months ago, he complained to me about Washington’s inability to address the threat of climate change. Like Waxman, he gives a damn about this and truly wants to pass the toughest bill possible.

Enviros can decide for themselves how much compromise to accept. Ultimately, our political system may not at this time””even with President Barack Obama at the helm””be able to handle the full truth about climate change and act accordingly. But it’s hard to second-guess Markey and Waxman. If they are cutting deals, they are doing what they reluctantly need to do, not what they want.

It will be a staggering achievement if, in 6 to 9 months, an energy and climate bill that looks something like Waxman-Markey is signed into law by President Obama.

From the perspective of political realism, though, it will be a great challenge just to stop this bill from being weakened as it winds itself through the House and especially the Senate.  Indeed, it should be strengthened.  That is the hard task ahead.

From the perspective of climate science realists, the bill has two flaws, one of which is very serious.  And I don’t mean the allocations for big polluters.  I know many of my readers disagree, but I just don’t think that the allocation undermines the goals of the bill at all, and in fact are a perfectly reasonable way of satisfying political needs while preventing windfalls for polluters and preserving prices (and update here).  See also Robert Stavins: “The appropriate characterization of the Waxman-Markey allocation is that more than 80% of the value of allowances go to consumers and public purposes, and less than 20% to private industry.”

The first flaw is the 2 billion offsets that polluters can potentially use instead of their own emissions reductions.  I have previously explained why I am far less worried about domestic offsets (see here).  In a regulated market with a cap, many of the domestic offsets will represent real reductions of US greenhouse gas emissions, and the total supply of cheap domestic offsets will be limited.  I have also explained why I do not believe the international offsets threaten the overall integrity of the bill (see “Do the 2 billion offsets allowed in Waxman-Markey gut the emissions targets?“).  The key point is that last year, the entire international offsets market utilized by the Europeans was 82 million tons with an average price of $25/ton (and about half of those tons were crappy, low-cost HFCs from China that won’t be available by 2012).  If the U.S. comes into the international offsets market even in a modest way, the price will certainly be higher than that, especially if we work to improve offset quality, as the bill demands.  Still, I’d love the Senate to improve the bill by sunsetting the offsets.

The bottom line is that the vast amounts of moderate-cost near-term domestic emissions reductions strategies “” energy efficiency, conservation, replacing coal power with natural gas-fired power, wind power, biomass cofiring, concentrated solar thermal power, recycled energy, geothermal, and hydro power (see “An introduction to the core climate solutions“) — will be available at $15/ton or less (in quantity) in 2020 (see “Game changer, Part 2: Why unconventional natural gas makes the 2020 Waxman-Markey target so damn easy and cheap to meet“).

And that brings us directly to the second and far graver flaw — the 2020 target is too weak (see here).  Given the lost 8 years of the Bush administration, it was inevitable that a bill which doesn’t even impose a cap until 2012 could not have the same 2020 target (compared to 1990 levels) than the Europeans are considering.

That means we’re going to build too much polluting crap in the next decade.  That means we’ll have to go back and unbuild it at some point.  More expensive, sure, than doing it right the first time, but no more difficult than deploying the dozen or so accelerated stabilization wedges globally in three to four decades needed to beat 450 ppm.

For me, a two-term President Obama (together with the next three Congresses) cannot solve the global warming problem, but can create the conditions that allow the next couple of presidents to do what is needed.  Or he can be thwarted, making it all but impossible for future presidents.

The only hope for stabilizing at 350 to 450 ppm is a WWII-scale and WWII-style effort as I have said many times.  And that implies a level of desperation we don’t have now (see “ What are the near-term climate Pearl Harbors?“).  When we have that desperation, probably in the 2020s, we’ll want to already have:

  • substantially dropped below the business-as-usual emissions path
  • started every major business planning for much deeper reductions
  • goosed the cleantech venture and financing community
  • put in place the entire framework for U.S. climate regulations
  • accelerated many tens of gigawatts of different types of low-carbon energy into the marketplace
  • put billions into developing advanced low-carbon technology
  • started building out the smart, green grid of the 21st century
  • trained and created millions of clean energy jobs
  • negotiated a working international climate regime
  • brought China into the process

This bill is crucial to achieving all of those vital goals.

Kudos to Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman and Ed Markey and President Obama “” and a great many other progressive politicians and advocates “” for making this historic moment happen.

Enjoy the weekend.  The really hard work — Senate passage — is next.

UPDATE: Statement from the Alliance for Climate Protection Chairman Al Gore on passage of the American Clean Energy Security (ACES) Act by the House of Representatives

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Leadership of the House, and Chairmen Waxman and Markey have, through their leadership, secured an important bipartisan victory for the American people.

The American Clean Energy Security (ACES) Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress will ever pass. This comprehensive legislation will make meaningful reductions in global warming pollution, spur investment in clean energy technology, create jobs and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

The next step is passage of this legislation by the Senate to help restore America’s leadership in the world and begin, at long last, to put in place a truly global solution to the climate crisis.

We are at an extraordinary moment, with an historic opportunity to confront one of the world’s most serious challenges. Our actions now will be remembered by this generation and all those to follow – in our own nation and others around the world.

UPDATE2:  Here is the full roll call vote, with R’s in italics.

—- AYES    219 —

Adler (NJ)
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Bono Mack
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine
Carson (IN)
Castor (FL)
Connolly (VA)
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Edwards (MD)
Frank (MA)
Gordon (TN)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Hall (NY)
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Kilpatrick (MI)
Klein (FL)
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Lofgren, Zoe
Markey (CO)
Markey (MA)
McCarthy (NY)
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy (NY)
Murphy, Patrick
Nadler (NY)
Neal (MA)
Pastor (AZ)
Pingree (ME)
Polis (CO)
Price (NC)
Rothman (NJ)
Ryan (OH)
S¡nchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (WA)
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Van Hollen
Wasserman Schultz

—- NOES    212 —

Barrett (SC)
Barton (TX)
Bishop (UT)
Brady (TX)
Broun (GA)
Brown (SC)
Brown-Waite, Ginny
Burton (IN)
Coffman (CO)
Davis (AL)
Davis (KY)
Davis (TN)
Deal (GA)
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Donnelly (IN)
Edwards (TX)
Franks (AZ)
Garrett (NJ)
Gingrey (GA)
Hall (TX)
Hastings (WA)
Herseth Sandlin
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jordan (OH)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Kline (MN)
Lee (NY)
Lewis (CA)
Lungren, Daniel E.
McCarthy (CA)
McMorris Rodgers
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Miller, Gary
Moran (KS)
Murphy, Tim
Poe (TX)
Price (GA)
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Smith (NE)
Smith (TX)
Thompson (PA)
Wilson (OH)
Wilson (SC)
Young (AK)
Young (FL

—- NOT VOTING    3 —

Flake Hastings (FL) Sullivan

85 Responses to The U.S. House of Representatives approves landmark (bipartisan!) climate bill, 219 – 212. Waxman-Markey would complete America’s transition to a clean energy economy, which started with the stimulus bill.

  1. John Hollenberg says:

    Brian, we already have: energy efficiency, wind power, PV power (making rapid cost reductions), solar baseload power, nuclear (probably not cost effective, though), the Prius, BEV set to be introduced in the next 2-4 years, PHEV scheduled shortly. As Joe has pointed out many, many times on this blog we just need to deploy the technology we have, not come up with magical new technology.

    Perhaps you could read Joe’s articles from just the last 6 months to educate yourself before making such ridiculous statements.

    [JR: I kinda got tired of Brian’s cut-and-paste of conservative talking points, especially since, as you say, the have already been debunked here.]

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo, But

    I’m super happy, of course, but 219-212 is WAY too close, and the Senate is coming up, and after that, we’ll need to continue the effort to improve matters, substantially.

    And, I listened to much of the House debate today, and much of it made me sick and sad. Some of the people who presume to be our leaders seem to have NO understanding of science and very little ability to even reason. Many of them seem only good at blathering nonsense.

    The media need to get MUCH better at covering this whole issue honestly, accurately, clearly, prominently, and in a timely way.

    219-212 is WAY too close, and this is no game.

    Let’s get with it, media.


  3. Brian J, do you even read the posts on this website? This whole site is dedicated to recognising the scale of the problem and finding practical solutions to it. Magic (and blind faith) are not going to work.

    What would be truly evil would be to recognise the massive problem of climate change and chose to ignore it because we can party-on for a few more years without the wheels falling off.

  4. Ben Lieberman says:

    This is a major achievement along a very long path.
    Thanks for the excellent analysis. It will be important to see how many of the Democratic no votes can be turned around in the future.

  5. John Hollenberg says:

    > I’m super happy, of course, but 219-212 is WAY too close

    I agree, but also wonder if some democrats were allowed to vote No to protect themselves for upcoming 2010 elections. If they had really been needed, perhaps arms would have been twisted harder. Things aren’t always what they seem.

  6. David B. Benson says:


    (Wipes sweat from brow…)


  7. Seconding the notion mentioned above, I was profoundly disturbed by how close this was. Do we actually think the Senate will be easier?

    I feel like the fellow who jumped off the World’s Tallest building. Folks by the windows all reported hearing him say the same thing as he “whooshed” by: “So far, so good … So far, so good …”

  8. Al says:

    [JR: Oil prices will rebound to record levels with a few years. This bill will have little impact on them for a long time. Natural gas looks to be much more stable now with new supply coming on. This bill will have little impact on them. Yes, some coal replacement, but much efficiency.]

    I’d like to get practical and personal here, and consider what this cap and trade bill will mean for my winter heating bills, should it pass the Senate (perhaps a long shot???)

    I live in New England, in a house built in 1940. The heating system is circulated hot water, heated with oil. My research indicates that for much of the past 20 years, the $/BTU cost for oil and gas heating has been comparable. That wasn’t true two winters ago, when the oil price spike made oil a lot more expensive than gas. (I paid almost $5,000 for oil that winter.) At that time, I began considering a conversion to gas heat. The cost will not be trivial – I need a new furnace, a new chimney liner, and the installation of a gas line. I’m guessing this will cost at least $6,000 -$7,000. I was mainly going to do it for protection from future oil price spikes (plus the convenience of gas).

    I’ve heard that the cap and trade bill will force a lot of utilities to switch from coal to natural gas, which would seem likely to push up natural gas prices. At the same time, CAFE standards and a depressed economy would seem likely to hold down oil prices for awhile. As a home owner, I don’t believe cap and trade would directly boost (tax) the price of heating oil, but I’m not sure about that.

    So should I switch to gas (and possibly get hit by soaring gas prices) or stick with oil, and risk another oil price spike?

    I’m sure someone will suggest geothermal. Near as I can tell, I don’t have enough radiator area for the lower water temperatures produced by a geothermal system. Between digging wells, and retrofitting larger radiators or air vents into an existing house, I’d expect that option to cost in excess of $30,000.

    I still have the possibility of reducing energy consumption by replacing my 70-year old double hung windows with something better. But the estimate for that came back at $13,000 (for high quality, aesthetically pleasing fiberglass windows).

    I know you guys like to talk about “postage stamp per day” sorts of costs, but I’m seeing much bigger amounts of money involved should I desired to reduce my carbon footprint.

    Any comments or suggestions?

    P.S., I’ve already lost my job, and my wife is at risk of losing hers…..

  9. Raleigh Latham says:

    Hallelujah! Thank god this bill passed the House, now it’s time to do all that is necessary to make sure it passes in the Senate. Time to start writing your Senator!

    Shame on all the Representatives who voted no…
    I can’t believe Dennis Kucinich was one of the NO votes.

  10. MarkB says:

    “I agree, but also wonder if some democrats were allowed to vote No to protect themselves for upcoming 2010 elections. If they had really been needed, perhaps arms would have been twisted harder. Things aren’t always what they seem.”

    That thought crossed my mind too. I watched the end of the vote and noted that the final 20 Democratic votes seemed to be split almost 50/50. Perhaps that was coincidence, but maybe a few saw it was headed towards passage and voted No. Senators have a much broader constituency and aren’t prone to the same pressures of some narrow alarmist views of certain districts.

    Still, it feels like a team squeaking out a victory against the Clippers and not feeling too good about their performance since the Lakers are next. But like any team, the Lakers are beatable on any given day.

  11. rana says:

    It is clear that some of the Democrats voted no because the bill was not tough enough. So in reality there were more votes for doing at least this much to counter global warming.

  12. John Hollenberg says:

    > I know you guys like to talk about “postage stamp per day” sorts of costs, but I’m seeing much bigger amounts of money involved should I desire to reduce my carbon footprint.

    I think the issue here is that you are going to have high costs any way you look at it. With peak oil here (or close) you are using a resource that is only going to get more expensive. The price of petroleum products is going to go up whether the climate bill gets through the senate or not, as China and India ramp up their demand once the global recession is over. Whether natural gas will prove to have a lower price in the nearer future is unknown.

    I saw a post from a guy in Wisconsin in the last year or so (may not have been on Climate Progress) who had installed a ground source heat pump which paid for itself in savings within 4-5 years. The specifics of your situation may be different. Plus, if you don’t have a job, this probably isn’t the time to be making investments.

    Bottom line: if I had to make such an investment, I would wait until I had sufficient resources, then take the long view, using a 10 year horizon and the presumption that oil products are going to rise significantly in cost. My sister recently installed solar PV panels on her roof. Due to the cost structure for electricity in her area (Southern California Edison), she figures to break even in 8-10 years. The rest of the estimated 25 year life of the panel she will be saving money. Of course, you need to have the capital available to go this route.

  13. crf says:

    Denis Kucinich voted “nay”. A man unclear of the concept of making the best of a bad situation. He thought the bill was too weak … that defeating this bill would result in something stronger is a very difficult position to argue.

  14. MarkB says:


    There are others here who have much greater expertise than me on this subject, but maybe I can offer broad advice. If you’re cash-strapped, something like a geothermal heat pump seems not very practical, as it has very high up-front costs (although little operating costs). I recommend starting with energy efficiency improvements if it makes sense. Some states offer free home energy audits which result in suggestions on what is cost-effective. Some of these audits do air and duct testing. There are government incentives (in some cases quite generous) for these things too. Replace all light bulbs with CFLs for a very cheap solution that pays off quickly. There are many good web pages that can give good suggestions on this.

    While the legislation (if it passes the Senate) would put a price on carbon emissions, this is balanced to some degree by lowered consumption,
    which lowers demand and theoretically, prices. However, supply and world demand is continuously an issue. Oil is expected to continue to increase in price, dwarfing any possible impact from the legislation. Natural gas I believe is subject to similar volatility and could be an issue if coal is converted to gas (as opposed to very low carbon sources like wind/solar/nuclear). That’s a problem with scarce resources. It’s also another reason why I think the Pickens Plan is flawed.

    The CBO did a non-partisan analysis and projects an average cost of $175 per households. Low-income households actually come out a little ahead. This analysis I don’t think includes all the savings from energy efficiency incentives and certainly doesn’t include benefits like better national security (less military spending perhaps) from lowered fossil fuel consumption, and of course the benefits of a cleaner environment.

    Based on this, the legislation probably would have a more modest impact on individual choices like the ones you’re describing.

  15. Tim R. says:

    The closeness of this vote bodes poorly for mere passage in the Senate, let alone strengthening. Tremendous pressure must be applied in the Senate to achieve something at all, let alone something better.

    But with all due respect to Al Gore, there is a back up plan. It is endangerment findings under the many sections of the Clean Air Act followed by rapid and strict GHG regulation across all sectors of the economy. Real pressure must be constantly applied on Obama’s EPA to get GHG regs out the door now. Perhaps only by the threat of serious EPA regulation will the dirtier Democrats and paleo Republicans come around to the kind of comprehensive climate legislation that will really begin to solve this problem.

  16. Eric L says:

    So how many of the 44 Dems fall into the Kucinich category, voting against legislation they thought was too weak, and how many are people who would have voted yes if their vote was needed?

    And how do we get this through the senate without watering it down too much further? From what I’ve seen of the way “centrists” operate, it’s how they changed the legislation they need to be able to take credit for, not how moderate the legistlation is in any absolute sense. My worry is that every compromise that was made in the House to get farm/coal state Dems on board will have to be made a second time to bring the equivalent senators on board.

  17. Konrad says:

    I feel if this legislation passes the US senate it will only be a win for bureaucrats who love red tape and government addicted to taxation. This legislation seems to be of little benefit to the environment and no benefit to the economy. At 1500 pages it is already a totally compromised mess, how will it look with all the amendments needed to get it passed in the senate?

  18. crf says:


    I guess this bill would affect prices upward, in a small way, for both oil and gas. Probably more so for oil than gas, since it uses more energy to refine, ship and store. But that is on top up huge swings in prices both oil and gas have experienced due to other market forces.

    The postage stamp per day costs may be underestimated (but likely not hugely). Why it is so cheap is because, in the near term, there are not going to be swift reductions in carbon dioxide. Also, the costs may be low since it is going to be big electric companies and large industrial users of coal, oil and gas — which emit a large fraction of carbon dioxide compared to home-owners — who are going to be doing most of the reductions, and have economies of scale to do so more cheaply compared to the small amounts, at a larger cost, a home owner might be able to reduce by doing things like replacing windows or installing a new furnace (or, say, installing solar panels).

    Since you need a new furnace, why not get a gas one? If you don’t need new windows, don’t get new windows. Carbon emissions will have to get a lot more expensive before replacing windows will pay significantly in avoided carbon-tax.

  19. James Newberry says:

    Whether we sink or swim, it is an historic vote for the House. Now the difficult task of preserving and strengthening what is left of the imperative in this 1300 page legislation begins and continues over the coming months. We should not let this opportunity pass since climate damages are coming fast and tragically while the economic imperatives for building a sustainable economy are clear.

    From the darkest Connecticut in memory, in both weather and economics, I thank the Democratic leadership.

  20. Donald B says:


    Check your attic for insulation level and particularly for sloppy installation (not tightly fitted between the rafters — and I don’t mean compressed, just snug. If you have only six inches or less, get another layer of batts and install them perpendicular across the ceiling rafters — install air path for air from fascias up into attic to maintain attic venting between each roof rafter.

    Check with your gas company about any incentives it might offer for connection; if not this year there certainly could be some next year. If some neighbors also want to go gas a multiple conversion can be attractive to the gas company.

    When your employment condition improves and/or you decide to get a new heating plant, I strongly urge you to consider a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) system; there is a company in Massachusetts that makes one and you can help create some local employment also.

  21. dwight says:

    I’d like to hear a little more about the Republican “all of the above” amendment that was defeated before the full vote. Not because I think it contains merit, I highly doubt that, but because it might provide a blueprint for future attempts to weaken the bill in the Senate. Any readers have some insight on this?

  22. Congratulations Joe, Congratulations Everyone!

  23. David B. Benson says:

    Al — Several posters gave some good advice. Get an energy audit and check the federal govenment incentives program for rebates which may apply to you.

    I’ll guess the single best thing you could do is upgrade your attic insulation to R-41 (or whatever is currently code+ in your area).

  24. Sasparilla says:

    Thank god it made it through. We’ve still got a chance to get through all this. Congrats to everyone involved (except for the side that voted no of course).

  25. Al…

    where are you in New England?

    About a year ago, I heard about this program in Cambridge, MA. PBS did a show about it.

    It’s a pilot program, run in concert with NSTAR and a local bank, if memory serves. In a nutshell, they do energy audits, and recommend efficiency and equipment upgrades for homeowners and businesses, but you don’t pay for the upgrades directly… the money you save by using less energy goes right to the bank to pay for the upgrades over four to seven years.

    So I do realize that you don’t live in Cambridge, but perhaps CEA will know of similar programs, or be able to offer worthy advice for your area of NE. Or perhaps NSTAR or other utilities will have some options. There seems to be a great deal of activity in many northern states, and a number have money available to help offset energy upgrades or efficiency programs.

    We’re in the same boat… we have to replace a 31-year-old oil-fired furnace… And we’re really behind the curve in Nova Scotia… I have very few green options available.

    Ideally, a CHP — combined heat and power (or co-generation) unit — would be the way to go… You install a highly-efficient boiler that not only heats your house, it provides most of your electricity, too. CHP units are available in New England, but the technology is new, and might be too expensive to install. They are great for cutting tour carbon footprint; the fuel can be waste biomass, such a wood pellets, or natural gas… They’re hugely popular in the UK and Scandinavia, and that makes them much cheaper across the pond.

    Have a look at wood pellet furnaces, too. They work very well, I’m told, but the biggest problem is that you have to feed the furnace every couple of days.


  26. Al says:


    Thanks for the suggestions. I’d already concluded that geothermal heat pumps only make sense for new construction. Longer term, I wonder where that will leave the millions of older homes in New England that (in practical terms) can only be heated with oil or gas?

    Wind/Solar/Nuclear will eventually be significant sources of electrical power, but in the short term, gas is the more likely alternative to coal for electric power generation. New England already has the highest electrical power costs in the country, and heavy use of natural gas and oil as fuel (instead of coal) is the usual explanation. Anything that puts upward pressure on gas prices will not be good for us. JR seems to feel that gas supply will keep up with rising demand, and thus contain prices. If he is wrong, watch cap and trade get the blame for rising electric and gas bills. Those blue states in the Northeast are most vulnerable, so watch out Democrats…..

    I’ve already done a lot of weatherization, replaced some drafty doors, etc., with some modest benefit. And that is my frustration. Modest changes may be good in aggregate for modest reductions in energy, but they don’t do much to offset dramatically rising fuel costs. To get those big reductions requires much bigger up front investments.

    My experience with CF bulbs hasn’t been great. They are supposed to last 10 times longer than regular bulbs. But mine burn out a lot more frequently than that. The problem is that most of my lights are flush mount ceiling fixtures that trap a lot of heat, and heat greatly shortens the life span of CF bulbs.

  27. Steve H says:

    I’m pleased that this passes, but I feel I must respond to some of the commenters above. The CBO is likely wrong in its assumptions about cost for low income families. The reason is that these are people more likely to live in homes or apartments with inadequate insulation, inefficient appliances, and poorly sealed doors and windows. They don’t own their homes; they rent. So homeowner incentives will do nothing.

    Someone also mentioned the back up plan of regulation through EPA promulgation. While possible, I can’t imagine that such action would not be immediately receive an injunction and spend the better part of a decade in the courts.

  28. Chris Winter says:


    It appears there are no good solutions for your home heating problem. If you can’t convert to geothermal, the same will be true for wind and solar.
    Full-up conventional electric heat would be expensive also.

    The only suggestion I can offer is to search the Web. The Rocky Mountain Institute (rmi-dot-org) may have some good information.

  29. Matt Dernoga says:

    I was in the gallery where the vote took place. I want to defend Kucinich on one point, which is that he held his “no” vote until the 218 threshhold was passed.

    I have to assume he would have voted yes if he was the deciding vote, which also proves he knew this bill did plenty more good than harm.

  30. Jeremy Johnson says:

    I’m so glad this made it through. But to echo just about everybody else… it was way to close. I think we should start petitioning the senate now. I’m sure dirty coal is already planning a media blitz. What do you guys think is the most effective way to step up efforts to counter the status quo lobby and convince the senate to pass (and hopefully strengthen) this bill?

  31. Greg Robie says:


    As a 1940s home I am assuming you live in an 800-1000 sqft. home. Assuming $3.30 per gallon your $5000.00 heating bill suggests you went through over 1500 gallons. You need an energy audit done on the place to best see what your options are.

    Even so, I would guess your furnace also heats your domestic hot water. If so, that, combined with the likely antiquated design/efficiency of your furnace and burner, a quarter to a third of your cost is there. If so, you can see quite a saving (and quick payback), if you install a tankless water heater, for which there is a tax credit., or a regular water heater is money is real tight, but I would not recommend this.

    If your oil company services your furnace, consider having a qualified plumber do it and see if that makes a difference. If your burner isn’t being adjusted to function at 85% efficiency, you are wasting BTUs up the chimney and an independent contractor will have your best interest as his/hers. Make sure the nozzle size matches your heat needs. You can also ask to be shown how to adjust the temperature limit switch so that you can heat with cooler water early and late on the heating season, reserving the higher settings for only the cold spell, which even in New England aren’t as deep as they use to be. Zoning your heat more can make for significant savings.

    Window are a big source of heat lose, but weather stripping putty and putting plastic over them yourself for the winter can cut down heat transfer a lot. I am guessing your walls may not be insulated and your attic has only a little. While insulating your wall may be a bit more than you want to get into, adding more to you attic is relatively low skill task. If you’ve and unfinished uninsulated basement and the heating pipes are also uninsulated, these are homeowner-level projects.

    Since you have the time you can start picking away at these things. If money is a problem, with an energy audit in hand, a short term loan should be pretty easy to get.

    If I can help further, I can be contacted via the link to my website.

  32. Milan says:

    In the end, I hope it passes through the Senate, revealing that the US Congress is at least willing to take the first steps in dealing with climate change. The task then, as with many other environmental laws and regimes, will be to tighten the rules, eliminate the most egregious loopholes and handouts, and hopefully eventually produce an effective system for decarbonizing the American economy.

  33. Jody says:

    The passage of today’s bill was an important first step in regulating GHG but in order to get through the senate we all need to stress how this legislation will benefit the country economically. As Jeff pointed out, the debate on the floor had nothing to do with the science and/or effects of global warming. It was all about how will this bill effect my district economically.

    To further illustrate this point, look no further than hurricane katrina. The people along the gulf coast had several days notice to evacuate. They could actually see the pictures of the hurricane bearing down upon with every weather station explaining how the tidal surge would overwhelem coastal areas. And yet so many chose to stay. (I realize many didn’t have the means to evacuate but at the same time many did).

    The task of convincing the general public about the dangers of climate change is going to be a tough sell as we all know, and thereby the senate. That is why we must convince the public that this legislation will lead our country away from our addiction to oil, create a new manufacturing sector, and protect our national security interests. Stress those three points and we can sell this bill in the “deep south”.

  34. Sam says:

    Well, probably not many readers of this blog will care, but–I live at the intersection of two Congressional districts in Appalachian Ohio, both of which have heavy coal interests. One, Zach Space, for the bill, despite being in a district that has been traditionally Republican until he won the seat 3 years ago as a result of Bob Ney’s idiocy and corruption. It was a courageous vote by him, and he deserves some recognition for it.

    The other Congressman–Charlie Wilson, also a Democrat–voted against the bill. This district traditionally votes Democratic, and is liberal enough to have been the only district in OH to vote against the gay marriage amendment back in 2004 (a large university population). I was extremely disappointed by this cowardly vote. I intend to make my disappointment known.

  35. Modesty says:

    A flowchart of the challenge in the Senate, please?

  36. dhogaza says:

    But with all due respect to Al Gore, there is a back up plan. It is endangerment findings under the many sections of the Clean Air Act followed by rapid and strict GHG regulation across all sectors of the economy.

    Well, that was the hammer Obama was holding in his hand, supposedly, yet 42 Democrats voted against it. A few – DeFazio in my state, Kucinich, did so because it wasn’t strong enough, but there’s 30-35 who fled for other reasons.

    The Dems, as usual, a lakc of party discipline in the House, even though Obama spent the day twisting arms personally (though of course in the past it’s been weaker for the Rs as well).

    Hopefully the Senate will be more mature. I’m sure my state (Oregon) has 2 votes in favor.

  37. Eduardo says:

    First I want to congratulate the US for passing this important legislation in the House and I will be following very closely what happened in the senate in the next months.

    I also want to congratulate Joe Romm for this truly “indispensable blog” and let you know that you have followers from other countries that understand the urgency for acting now if we want to reverse the worse consequences of climate change.

    I´m from Colombia, and I hope that in a near future this US legislation creates the obligation for some similar legislation in my country and we begin a green revolution that certainly could help mu country a lot.

  38. Vanessa says:

    Does anybody know why Rep. Lloyd Doggett changed his mind?

  39. Jim Beacon says:


    If you have mostly downward-pointing ceiling light fixtures that will indred shorten the life of CFL bulbs — but so what? You will still be using only 13 watts for every 60 watts you are using now. Even if you end up having to spend a bit more on bulbs the important thing is that you will *immediately* start using 78.3% less electricity for every single light in your house. That’s what matters.

    Then there’s the heat factor — burning all that extra wattage in those ceiling fixtures is adding extra heat to the air in your house and you have to burn more electricity in your air-conditioner to compensate. They might contribute a little to household heat in the winter, but not very efficiently for the power they use since they are up on the ceiling and any heat they generate stays up there where it doesn’t do much to warm you sitting 5 feet below them.

    Of course, you could just forget about the ceiling fixtures and use floor and table lamps with CFLs — but if you feel you must have ceiling lighting there is a responsible way: You can now get LED bulbs that screw into a standard light socket. They are pricey right now, but the light quality is excellent, they only use a few watts, burn cold and LEDs last practically forever. Really.

    While the first generation of CFL bulbs did not last as long as they were supposed to, I’ve done real-word tests on the current generation and they really do live up to their 10,000 hour claim (unless you happen to get one of the occasional factory defects, which also happens with incandescents. But factory defects are now pretty rare in CFLs and the quality of the light is also now much better than it was).

    If you’ve got an electric water heater, that is a *huge* electricity guzzler. I put a 24-hour timer on mine and now it shuts off completely for 10 hours at night. There’s still plenty of hot water left in the tank for first-thing morning activity and of course the timer kicks it back on then anyway. I cut a full 15% from my monthly electric usage with this one easy modification.

    Between that and the CFLs and some simple turn-if-off-if-you’re-not-using-it-right-now behavior modification I’ve managed to reduce my average monthly electricity consumption by 23% from two years ago — and it has not significantly affected by lifestyle. So, in a way, I’ve already done my personal share in achieving the Waxman-Markey target. Well, sort of.

    Anyway, there are plenty of websites with a lot of other good, easy and realtively cheap things that every individual can do to reduce electricity consumption, so run a Google search on a few keywords and you should find plenty of information.

  40. Phillip Huggan says:

    don’t be afraid to turn your guns north at our GOP. Our right wing media lobby is no match against Democrat muscle (our Left is to date too weak). Seriously, a tough line against Canada would send a message to China/India, though China’s stimulus is apparently greenest in world (Canada’s stimulus most dirtiest I think). Same electricity cost increases for domestic consumers but much politically easier to deal with Canadian lobby and loss of Canadian jobs. We need USA help capturing USA green supply chain. How things have changed from the beginning of this decade…

  41. Doug Gibson says:

    I’d like to second Dwight and Modesty upthread. As activists and constituents, we need to come to some sort of consensus on what we will and will not accept as the Senate’s conservatives attempt to weaken the bill.

    And we need to know when in the process we should apply pressure on our on Senators.

  42. Leland Palmer says:

    It’s a major achievement, and the logic and reason displayed by people like Obama, Waxman, Markey, and their fellow Democrats have partially restored my faith in human nature, after the long Bush dark ages.

    It’s a step, but just a first step.

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

    What a relief. I’m starting to believe that we actually have a shot at turning this thing around.

    We might end up condemned to normalcy, after all. :)

    If we could get the CO2 concentrations turned around quickly enough, perhaps the climate system won’t have time to react and will remain in control, without runaway positive feedbacks.

    Carbon neutral energy technologies won’t get us there, though. We need carbon negative technologies. But that is an argument for another day.

    On to the Senate!

  43. Pat Richards says:

    I want to give a loud shout out to the heroes of the moment… those 8 brave Republicans who voted FOR the bill! They will probably pay dearly for their integrity and courage. But think about it. The bill only passed by two votes. Maybe some of the traitor democrats would have voted yes at the last second if it looked like it would fail, but I kind of doubt it. But these 8 Republicans did not wait until the last second. They stepped up to the plate early during the vote and said “yes”. And without those 8 Republican votes Waxman-Markey would not have passed!

    These 8 are all brave American patriots and true. They are the only members of their party in the U.S. House of Representative entitled to call themselves conservatives (which does, after all, mean to “conserve”). Their last names are:

    Bono Mack
    Smith (the one from New Jersey)

    As for the 44 traitorous, back-stabbing, self-serving so-called Democrats who voted no… I don’t care what your reasons were (and I admit I sympathize with those who thought the bill should be stronger) that doesn’t change the fact that as members of the Democratic Party when the final moment came to push the button you were morally obligated come to the defense of your country, answer the call of your President and vote yes. Your names, listed in the Nay column above in a non-italic font, should mark the end of your political careers and I can only say good riddance.

    As for the 3 cowards who did not even vote:

    2 Democrats named Flake and Sullivan
    and a Republican from Florida named Hastings

    … well, unless you were lying in horrible shape in a hospital bed somewhere, I have no words for the likes of you.

  44. J says:

    A great day in America!
    I watched some of the debate, when the GOP leader was going through a 300 page amendment made by the Democrats – he was irate over the fact that said amendment was just introduced this morning.
    Can someone elaborate more on this? Is it a good thing?

  45. PaulK says:


    It is a good thing because it allows 300 pages of additions and revisions to be added without having to go through the useless and irrelevant committee discussion and voting. As we all learned from the highly effective jobs creating stimulus bill, the best bills are those least read by the members.

  46. Michael says:

    After Iraq the Yanks are gonna try to save the world once more.

    Will again prove to be pointless I think.

  47. Bob Wright says:

    In this instance, the world actually does need saving. Mostly from us!

    You discuss the new natural gas finds. There has been some of discussion of problems with ground water depletion and pollution, and pollution from chemicals or materials used to enhance gas extraction. It can’t be assumed that the new sources will be as clean or cheap to extract, and we don’t want to pollute America’s water supplies, especially as clean water becomes more scarce. Please do a blog on this. Thanks

    I had a little time to watch on C-SPAN. The only Repub point of any relevance was offsets purchased abroad. The US should have an abundance of offset opportunities at home, and the last thing our trade balance needs is more money going offshore, especially only for the privilige to pollute.

    Good point about the timing. We have wasted at least 8 years, but at a minimum, this law will ensure we have better technology and something to build on when the GW s__t really starts hitting the fan in the 20’s, and we do have to make that all out effort.

  48. Yuebing says:

    CFLs used in recessed fixtures MUST be rated for recessed fixtures. It will say this on the package. The electronics will fail otherwise from overheating. This includes track lighting cans.

    Al, you are not alone. There are tens of millions of American homes which need to brought up to the a reasonable efficiency standard. Oil is running out, it is dangerous to our climate, and it will become expensive and scarce.

    Betsy Pettit
    has done some remarkable renovations to houses like yours.

    Look over her information, and register at RMI and read their publications.

    Also DOE’s Build America program

    Develop a five year plan, or even a ten year plan which gets your building where you want it. Leverage all the federal state and local assistance.

    Meanwhile, put up some plastic interior storm panels this winter on your windows. If your heating system is not zoned and set back thermostatted, do that. Heat only the areas you are in, while you are in them. Some interior doors will help.

    My favorite is the heated mattres pad. For 50 watts or so, toasy warm all night long.

  49. Yuebing says:

    JR, our heartfelt thanks to you and your staff for the absolutely amazingly completely precise reporting you have brought us.

    Climate Progress Indeed.

    I have no doubt that your work played some positive role in creating yesterday’s victory.

  50. Bèr Sweering says:

    In the past we have seen enormous price-inelasticty in the oil-market. Measures to reduce oil-consumption should therefore have a double effect: less volume and lower price. This would improve the economics of this bill even further.
    Also, US investments in efficiency technology will be used globally and reduce global oil-consumption and thereby prices.This will indirectly benefit the US as a nett oil-importer.I have not seen much publicty on this effect, or am I missing something?

  51. Yuebing says:

    Bob writes: “I had a little time to watch on C-SPAN. The only Repub point of any relevance was offsets purchased abroad. The US should have an abundance of offset opportunities at home, and the last thing our trade balance needs is more money going offshore, especially only for the privilige to pollute.”

    The only way we can get back to safe CO2 levels is by halting and reversing deforestation around the world. HR2454 explicitly supports that. It is just one of the many amazingly good things about this bill. You can call them offsets. Or you can just call it Americans funding the cheapest way to get CO2 down. Our share of the excess CO2 is the largest of any nation’s.

  52. Chris Winter says:

    Vanessa wrote: “Does anybody know why Rep. Lloyd Doggett changed his mind?”

    Certainly: It was because of the “inane arguments” coming from the “flat earth society” across the aisle — meaning the Republicans. You can read his full statement on his decision in the thread immediately preceding this one.

  53. Ron says:

    My hope is that Senate Democrats will build a bi-partisan bill by offering Senate Republicans a chance to put the Republican energy plan into effect by supporting their effort to build more nuclear plants.

    Democrats get CO2 cap&trade.
    Republicans get more nuclear plants.

    Now someone go make it happen! :-)

  54. caerbannog says:

    My hope is that Senate Democrats will build a bi-partisan bill by offering Senate Republicans a chance to put the Republican energy plan into effect by supporting their effort to build more nuclear plants.

    Democrats get CO2 cap&trade.
    Republicans get more nuclear plants.

    And should that happen, let’s hope that the bulk of the nuke money goes to the development of Generation IV (fast-reactor) designs! Gen IV nuclear plants would be a “threefer”: Cut CO2 emissions, generate electricity, *and* help solve the long-term nuclear waste issue.

  55. Richard L says:


    I am a certified energy auditor. I recommend you get a blower door test of your home, and get your home air sealed. This is action is not very expensive and results in major reductions of energy and improvements in comfort.

    I DO NOT recomment tankless water heaters. They have maintenance problems and are not as efficient as the manufacturers claim.

    A timer on your water heater does not do much either. The best and cheapest thing you can do is insulate your water heater with a heavy insulation blanket. Solar water heating is more cost effective than PV and can save 70% of your water heating

  56. Thinker says:

    I watched most of the debate on this bill on CSPAN yesterday and was flabbergasted that anyone would vote for it. Regardless of your view on AGW, a no vote was the only reasonable course of action. This bill will certainly hamper the economic recovery and will be especially burdensome to the poor. Yet, will do very little for the environment.

    I was struck by the fact that those in favor audaciously claimed that the bill would restore America to a leadership role in the world. Really? Australia is reconsidering its cap and trade system because of new science which throws doubt on the AGW hypothesis. Spain’s “green jobs revolution” is a total bust and that country is experiencing 17%+ unemployment. More and more renowned scientist from around the world are standing up to say that there is not a consensus on the AGW issue.

    In the end, our friends around the world will only laugh at us for being behind the curve and our inability to learn from their mistakes.

  57. MarkB says:


    I tried to find a single sentence in your post that was remotely accurate and wasn’t a carbon copy talking point out of the contrarian blogosphere. All I could find was “Really?”

  58. Chris Winter says:

    I was flabbergasted too. But in my case the reason was the abysmal quality of the Republican arguments against the bill. I’m sure you noticed that Rep. Lloyd Doggett switched his vote from “nay” to “yea” for that very reason. As I understand it, Dennis Kucinich would have done the same if it looked like the bill wouldn’t be passed. Probably there are a few others with the same view who haven’t spoken out.

    You claim there is “new science which throws doubt on the AGW hypothesis.” Why don’t you describe that, or tell us where we can find it? Probably because it has zero credibility, just like every other claim of “new science” which purportedly debunks AGW.

    The sad fact is that anyone who could really disprove AGW, or even show that its effects won’t be as bad as projected, would save the world oodles of money at a time when budgets are under severe strain already — and would probably win a Nobel Prize as well.

    But I won’t be holding my breath waiting, just as I won’t await a credible Republican alternative to Waxman-Markey.

  59. Frank C. says:

    Can somebody explain to me Joe’s offset position – *why* a higher price than 25 per ton won’t “work.” What will happen?

    I don’t understand the logic. If the offset price is too high, doesn’t that mean there are incentives to would-be purchasers to reduce in other ways? Or is it that nobody will buy them, and the incentive to reduce and sell one’s one is eliminated? And what’s with the price being lower if the US enters the international market? I’m confused. More clarity from Joe would help.

    [JR: International offsets will be more expensive than domestic emissions reductions. Thus far fewer offsets will be purchased than most analyses, even CBO’s, conclude. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.]

    thanks – great work otherwise.

  60. SecularAnimist says:

    Thinker wrote: “… new science which throws doubt on the AGW hypothesis … More and more renowned scientist from around the world are standing up to say that there is not a consensus on the AGW issue.”

    [snip]. There is no such “new science” and there are no such “renowned scientists” casting “doubt” on “the AGW hypothesis.”

    Your “thinking” ability seems limited to slavish regurgitation of the inane talking points that ExxonMobil pays Rush Limbaugh to spoon-feed you.

  61. Anon says:

    Apologies, looks like this work has been done already. (update?)


  62. John Hollenberg says:

    Thinker, I think you need a new screen name, based on the lack of thinking displayed by your post. If you want to educate yourself, read the posts on this blog, and also see:

  63. Rick Covert says:

    I’m happy to report our Congressman Al Green from Texas 9th district voted yea. :)

  64. Chris Winter says:

    Interesting thing I picked up from DailyKos live-blogging of the Waxman-Markey vote:

    “4:28pm: Interesting tidbit I just heard from one of our staffers — pro-ACES calls to members of Congress are close to 100% in-district, while anti-ACES calls to member offices are only about 15% in-district. Basically, it’s local clean energy advocates vs. a national Big Oil-funded campaign.”

    Reminds me of one of California’s initiative campaigns, with a massive influx of poll results from out of state, apparently with big money behind it. Sorry, can’t recall which initiative.

  65. Leland Palmer says:

    Hmm… the idea of throwing the Republicans in the Senate a nuclear energy bone to get their cooperation has a certain amount of appeal.

    It could work.

    My personal opinion of nuclear is that the money would be better spent on solar thermal plants with heat energy storage, on wind turbines and plug in hybrid vehicles, and of course on converting existing coal fired power plants to carbon negative bioenergy power plants.

    But if it gets the bill through the Senate, it might be worth it.

    Sleeping with the “Devil” would be expensive, but not as expensive as defeat of the bill.

  66. Peter Wood says:

    Is Sensenbrenner going to stop being so critical of China considering that he has voted no to W-M?

  67. hapa says:


    you’re probably gone from here. in case you’re not, along with all the good envelope-sealing advice above, you should also explore the possibility of a pellet furnace, which might be a good fit with your radiators.

    sadly the price-per-day stuff of the macro calculations is an average — across the entire country — and only relating to conversion. hydrocarbon fuel costs are on their own journey, as it were.

    some people, in some places, will save money, while others face unusual burdens. hopefully there will be good assistance available but that’s not guaranteed in this political climate.

    (many of us noticed that in winter 07-08, with the highest home heat costs in living memory, the republican administration tried to kill the home heat assistance and weatherization programs. “contemptuous” is the only word for that kind of behavior.)

    the plain fact is that people like jim kunstler have a point about america’s housing stock. it’s built wrong for our times and some of it will be very expensive to retrofit. possibly prohibitively expensive. this will be something 100 million US households find out for themselves.

    it’s my hope that the experience with banksterism will help us come together on stuff like this, fixing health care, college education, credit, and energy so that they aren’t financial bombs in families’ basements. we’re going to need much better and more sophisticated safety nets as we travel this very unpredictable road.

    this is why for a few years now i’ve been advocating the feds or well-trained local volunteers or whoever, have them go house-to-house, building-to-building, doing good energy audits and inventories of the existing HVAC and other equipment. it would take some time and cost some money, but i think it would be worth it if it would avoid having people fall through the cracks as the big change proceeds.

    an architectural census, you could call it. get all the missing information.

    it’s tough. households are broke or borderline and states are cash poor and the feds are split nearly 50/50 on the issue of whether the federal government should do anything to help or should spend the money building F-22s and buying yachts for criminals. so in this case, it’s totally possible that the economic hits to normal people will just keep on coming.

    what i’m saying is, skunks in washington have already forced millions out of their homes. for some of those people, the oil spike was the straw that broke them bankrupt. be prepared for the contingency that you can’t control those costs.

    it’s likely that the climate action will help… by building a framework for retrofits and services… instead of blaming you. i don’t know.

    lately americans have been treating each other like crap.

  68. Chris Winter says:

    Is anyone else disappointed with the lists of voting records available for HR 2454? I failed to find one that lists full name, party and state. (Not saying there isn’t one.)

    So I made my own.

    It’s a work in progress. Corrections are welcome.

  69. Jim Bouldin says:

    Joe, or anyone else, I am not very knowledgeable on the legislative process. Do you have any information or idea on how this House bill will be reconciled with the Senate’s “American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009”, which is currently under consideration? Will the latter be scrapped, or does it do different things entirely, and thus be kept? Thanks in advance.

    Also any information on the schedule for HR 2454 in the Senate now, I can’t find anything.

  70. Jim Bouldin says:

    Chris, there is one at THOMAS web site on HR 2454, but too late I guess.

  71. David B. Benson says:

    Jim Bouldin — Senate passed its version and then a committee from the House and Senate attempts to reconcile the two versions. This (sometimes?) leads to a revote, in both House and Senate, on the agreed common text.

  72. djrabbit says:


    As the owner of a 1900-era home in Minnesota, I sympathize. As Joe said in response, ACES itself (assuming that it is enacted into law) won’t change your calculation much at all. Heating will be expensive for you under either option, but not because of anything ACES would do (that’s where the postage-stamp a day estimate comes in).

    I understand that you still want to minimize costs while reducing your footprint, but your last line struck me as the most important factor, way more important than ACES: if you are looking at the potential of double-unemployment (like many others out there), the key thing is to increase savings and avoid unnecessary expenditures. So given the difficulty (impossibility?) of accurately predicting the relative cost of oil vs. gas in the future (in part because of second order market effects, but not much due to ACES), your best bet is to avoid the capital cost of switching fuel sources. And focus on low-cost efficiency measures. Have an energy audit done, seal the envelope as others have suggested above, close doors to unused rooms, hang quilts or insulating curtains over the windows at night, install ceiling fans that you can run backward to force the warm air trapped near the ceiling downward. As far as replacing windows, take a year or so to research and shop around, because there are some low-cost options coming on the market (for example, one vendor at the local Living Green Expo here retrofits existing windows to reduce heat loss w/o replacing the entire window, which lowers the cost). As a side note, one beneficial advantage of ACES (and the Feb. green stimulus) for homeowners like us is that it will increase the number of small businesses working in this space, helping to bring down the cost over time through competition.

  73. Doug Gibson says:

    The only hope for stabilizing at 350 to 450 ppm is a WWII-scale and WWII-style effort as I have said many times.

    Speaking of WWII, when will we get your description of the “1 wedge of WWII-style conservation, post-2030” you promised in your post on wedges? I keep expecting to see it on the front page.

  74. Climate Pearl Harbors that will actually get the attention of most Americans:
    The price of bread goes to $10/slice.
    There are no oranges in the grocery store.
    There is no lettuce in the grocery store or at the salad bar.
    500 Million people starve to death in India.
    600 Million people starve to death in China.
    Produce formerly grown in California cannot be found. That would include fruits, nuts, and leafy vegetables.
    Wheat or corn production in the US drops below 30 million bushels.
    There is no more Prime or Choice steak.
    The salad bar at your favorite restaurant is empty. You can’t afford to eat there any more anyway.

    When will it happen? Sooner than you think.

  75. tc says:

    You guys are crazy this bill is horrible. it take the freedom of the states to decide for themselves away. It forces them to follow in california’s footsteps, and look at the trobble they have already got themselves in. Does $300,000 for a 3 bedroom house sound good to you? Taxes that drive people out of homes and into other states? We are destroying jobs that people so badly need now while driving the cost of housing through the roof while the market is already hurting so bad. All so the people who vote for this ludacris bill can be ran out of office and replaced by people who will tear this law apart anyways. The green house gas issue needs to be addressed but a glorified energy tax is not the right way to go about it. Not one of you guys have read the 1300 page bill all the way through because it hasn’t been published long enough for you to have read it yet. I haven’t made it all the way through it yet and it is clear it is a horrible idea.

  76. Jim Bouldin says:

    David Benson, the Senate hasn’t even got anything out of committee as far as I know.

  77. Jim Bouldin says:

    Did some more researching, and Energy and Environment Daily has done an analysis on where they think the votes lie in the Senate. However, it is from late April, and no information is presented regarding what information might be in the bill, so it seems to be based on past tendencies and statements.

    Anyway they list 35 yes voters, 10 probably yes voters, and 23 “fence-sitters”, 5 of which would have to vote yes assuming all the others did.

    The fence-sitters include the following:

    Lamar Alexander (Tenn.): Now in Senate Republican leadership. Has stuck to his guns on need for power plant-only climate legislation.
    Mark Begich (Alaska): In his winning 2008 Senate campaign, supported 80 percent cuts by mid-century. But an Alaskan senator — Democrat or Republican — is still no sure thing on climate legislation.
    Sherrod Brown * (Ohio): Progressive record on climate while in the House. Now pushing to save jobs in economically-troubled Ohio. A big advocate of “green” economy. Voted against cloture on 2008 climate bill.
    Kent Conrad * (N.D.): Concerned about bill’s costs. Wants more funding for CO2 sequestration technology, alt fuels. Signed letter questioning 2008 Senate climate bill.
    Bob Corker (Tenn.): Most vocal Senate Republican when it comes to costs of climate bill. Supports a cap-and-trade measure or carbon tax under which all of the funds raised get returned directly to the public.
    Byron Dorgan * (N.D.): Like Conrad, concerned about bill’s costs and funding for CO2 capture. Also signed letter questioning 2008 Senate climate bill.
    Lindsey Graham (S.C.): Wants nuclear provisions added. Often sides with McCain on climate issue.
    Judd Gregg (N.H.): Voted in favor of the McCain-Lieberman bill in 2003 and 2005 but went against Lieberman-Warner in 2008, saying the price tag was too big. While Gregg opted against serving in Obama’s administration as secretary of Commerce, he may be seen as a possible GOP ally on global warming.
    Tim Johnson (S.D.): Won re-election in 2008, so may be less concerned about climate legislation. But signed letter questioning 2008 Senate climate bill.
    Mary Landrieu (La.): Complained last year that tight economy was no time to be debating climate legislation. Unclear how 2008 reelection changes her views.
    Carl Levin * (Mich.): Concerned about home-state auto industry, opposes California’s bid to regulate greenhouse gases. Likely to be his top issue during negotiations.
    Blanche Lincoln * (Ark.): Worked on cost-containment provisions during 2008 debate.
    Richard Lugar (Ind.): Ranking member on Senate Foreign Relations gives him clear view of post-Kyoto dynamics. Unsure about transparency and enforcement of cap-and-trade system. Also wants to see greater roles for biofuels, global food production and adaptation.
    Mel Martinez (Fla.): Retirement in 2010 raises questions about how much of a role he’ll play. Mentioned at end of 2008 Senate debate as possible GOP cosponsor of next climate bill, but so far shown no public interest.
    John McCain (Ariz.): The 2008 Republican presidential nominee wants more nuclear power. Held out support for last year’s bill over this. Working again with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on legislation.
    Claire McCaskill * (Mo.): Shown independence from Democratic leadership. Wants agricultural issues addressed in climate bill.
    Lisa Murkowski (Alaska): Ranking member of Senate Energy Committee and past cosponsor of cap-and-trade with Bingaman and Specter. Has pushed for funding for Alaskan adaptation.
    Mark Pryor * (Ark.): Raised alarm about moving climate legislation amid poor economy. Has focused in past on technology.
    Jay Rockefeller * (W.Va.): Most important issue is funding for “clean coal” technology.
    Arlen Specter (Pa.): Cosponsored cap-and-trade legislation in 2007 with Bingaman. Joined Senate EPW Committee to work on this year’s climate bill.
    Debbie Stabenow * (Mich.): Wants more offsets in climate bill. Also seeking nationwide auto standard in response to California regulations.
    Jon Tester (Mont.): Has stayed largely silent on climate issue. Montana politics may force him to be a bit more conservative as he nears 2012 reelection campaign.
    Jim Webb * (Va.): Also been quiet on global warming.

  78. theClean says:

    While I understand where everyone is coming from when they say this is a step in the right direction, this bill needs serious work to have any sort of positive effect on the world we live in. Too many areas of interest have been compromised and some truly basic questions go unanswered, including:

    1) Many supporters of ACES have argued “this is the best we can get given the circumstances” or that this bill “is a beginning.” If so, the central question for community organizers is: what is the next step? How will we obtain more meaningful and effective action on energy policy and climate change if we accept that these are the “circumstances”? When or how will we be able to improve the circumstances that are produced by this incomplete Act?

    [JR: Well, given that with the stimulus and the fuel economy deal, president Obama has in his first few months done more than every previous president combined on clean energy and climate, I think one can imagine many, many future actions — starting with the aggressive deployment of a smart, clean energy grid.]

    2) Given that the fossil-fuel industry is unwilling to agree to reduce carbon any further than the current legislation, and given that many environmental groups have acquiesced to the industry’s terms in the name of “getting something done”, what is the strategy for getting an energy bill that will reduce carbon enough to actually slow global warming? When will that bill happen? Will it be when the Democrats control Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency? (Hint: they already do.)

    [JR: That’s what this bill does — in so far as any bill passed by the United States can. Try reading the blog posts here before blurting stuff out.]

    3) Since President Obama is likely to sign the bill with great fanfare, what will the public take away from this? Will they see it as a “win”–that the problem is solved? If so, what will that mean for pushing for the needed steps later? How will the public be mobilized to push their Representatives when the official and media message is that this is “landmark” legislation?

    [JR: Nice try. You can’t posit a hypothetical and then use that to prove something. I spoke to one Senator who said that he expects to see an energy bill every year now.]

    4) If this bill is signed, coal’s role in America’s energy mix will be set for the next two decades. What strategies can victims of the coal industry use to convince Washington that the industry is still undertaking destructive and hazardous mining methods such as longwall mining and mountaintop removal coal mining?

    [JR: This bill will take us off on coal faster than one could hardly have imagined just two years ago. Again, try reading the blog posts here.]

    5) Why are taxpayers about to ‘invest’ billions in the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) of coal if Wall Street has taken a pass?

    [JR: First off, CCS can be used for more than just coal and ultimately I expect that it will be. Second, CCS is not economical until carbon has a price, so that would be the short answer to your question.]

    6) If our energy policy is so predicated on the workability of CCS and the inevitability of reliance on coal, what happens if CCS is not workable, or workable in time? Where are the sequestration sites? What are the estimates for storage capacity? What happens to local communities if there is an unexpected slow or sudden large release of CO2? Do the communities know the potential risk they are taking? Why are we giving billions of dollars to an industry without answers to these fundamental questions?

    [JR: Your first part of you question is utterly false — “our energy policy is so predicated on the workability of CCS — so the rest of the quetions make no sense. Again, if you actually read this blog you wouldn’t have wasted people’s time with this question.]

    7) If mountaintop removal and the serious impact on water resources in the West are factored in, what is the true cost of coal for our future?

    [JR: Coal must be phased out, which is what this bill does.]

    8) Why are we eliminating the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon as a pollutant like they do any other pollutant? If we do this, when will Congress be willing to revisit regulation guidelines on carbon? What are the levers for change without the regulatory authority of the EPA?

    [JR: EPA doesn’t have authority to regulate carbon like they do “any other pollutant.” They are in the process of developing the authority to do limited regulation on CO2, mostly for new sources.]

    9) What is the execution plan for the regulation of the cap and trade provisions of the bill? How can we ask Americans to accept a new “market” without a clear regulatory process, especially after the lack of a clear regulatory process just caused the collapse of our financial sector?

    [JR: A non sequitor. The bill lays all that out.]

    10) Why are we not meeting the necessary reductions in carbon as put forth by science?

    [JR: Uhh, typically, the status quo has the upper hand because it has tens of billions of dollars from, in this case, the dirty polluting industries to sell its message and its political might. There has been a two decade long disinformation campaign, which has not been well responded to by progressives or scientists. Also, the status quo media doesn’t report the climate story accurately, leaving the public in uninformed. That’s 3 reasons right off the top.]

    These questions must be answered. The stakes are too high. The American public deserves a bill that represents their long-term energy, economic, and security interests. We deserve better than a bill created by the conversation Washington insiders have amongst themselves. We deserve leadership, not the lowest common denominator. We voted overwhelmingly for these things in 2006 and this bill does not represent that intention.

    These aren’t minor uncertainties of a big bill, or things that can be “hammered out later.” In the view of most participants in CLEAN these are fundamental questions that point to deep underlying flaws with the legislation. Flaws that will lead to inevitable failures with serious, if not devastating, human consequences.

    [JR: Again, questions are fine. Suggestions to vote “no” on the bill need to be accompanied by a “Plan B” that leads to superior outcomes or else you are just wasting everyone’s time.]

  79. Responding to the prior commenter and “JR’s” final note on that comment re suggesting a “Plan B”: the President should announce that the public needs to learn the basic facts of the climate crisis, the melting of the Arctic, the thawing of the permafrost, the increasing rate of methane release, the saturation of the oceans, the meaning of the current evidence in light of the geologic record (with the help of the National Academy of Sciences).

    He should then announce that the current suite of “solutions” in Waxman-Markey is inadequate for the science. Specifically, Waxman Markey sets extremely weak goals (a small fraction of what scientists say is needed), allows all reductions until 2026 to be met with unverifiable “carbon offsets,” allows new coal-fired power plants without sequestration, and by robs EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases from the largest sources.
    He should point out that the give aways to fossil fuel and carbon offset investor interests and the weakness of the bill will undermine our ability enact better legislation in the future and to lead internationally.

    The President should also announce that what we need is a straightforward and enforceable way of putting a price on fossil fuels (where they enter the economy and can actually be reliably measured) that will gradually, but inexorably raise the price of fossil fuel energy above the price of the clean energy alternatives that we current have available (over 10 to 15 years). The substantial majority of these funds can be placed in a Carbon Fees Trust Fund and returned per person to all adults (less for kids) in order to insure that energy remains affordable during the transition. For a more complete description of this alternative, please see our discussion paper at

    One more suggestion to your readers, please don’t just comment here, please write to the President and to your senators about your concerns about Waxman-Markey. I have, but many more voices are needed in order for us to have an impact.

  80. scatman says:

    I was wondering why so many democrats voted against the bill. It seems democrats from states where private transportation costs are high voted against the bill as well as some states where energy use is high because of cold winters. I don’t know if the bill will adress this problem or not. Also some citizens of states such as Alaska and Wyoming use private airplane as a form of transport.

    Here is some analysis of this situation.

  81. scatman says:

    This is a map of votes by state. Obviously states with republican representatives mostly voted (no) regardless of geographic location or private transport costs, but many of these states coincide with large land area and lower population density states.

    Here is an interactive map of yes and no votes by state.

  82. Peggy Venable says:

    I don’t see Republicans as anti-conservation. Many are working to make sure we keep jobs in the U.S. It’s the economy, stupid!

  83. Mary VanAllen says:

    Wow, our stimulus dollars at work – $450 Million in Stimulus Funds for Texas windfarm by Texas company Cielo Wind Power & U.S. Renewable Energy Group announced. Total project cost for the 648-megawatt wind farm is $1.5 billion. $450 Million from Stimulus proves Obama and administration are creating jobs and stimulating U.S. economy and moving the U.S. towards geener energy. Hey all let’s give a shout out for Obama and his administration.

  84. sikisc says:

    The only hope for stabilizing at 350 to 450 ppm is a WWII-scale and WWII-style effort as I have said many times.

    Speaking of WWII, when will we get your description of the “1 wedge of WWII-style conservation, post-2030″ you promised in your post on wedges? I keep expecting to see it on the front page.

  85. mp3 dinle says:

    Second, CCS is not economical until carbon has a price, so that would be the short answer to your question.