Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cap and Trade up for a Vote?

Reports indicate that the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act will come up for a vote on the floor of the House tomorrow.

Cap and trade is a signature issue for President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership, and it is the centerpiece of the 1,201-page climate bill co-sponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hopes to bring the measure to the House floor for a vote tomorrow -- before a week-long recess for the Fourth of July holiday -- but a dispute with Republicans over annual spending bills could delay that plan....

A cap-and-trade system sets a limit on the nation's emissions of greenhouse gases, then issues or auctions emission allowances that can be bought or sold by individuals, funds and companies. Over time, the cap is lowered to reduce the nation's emissions. Making emitters pay for carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, would provide incentives for developing renewable energy sources and new technologies to limit emissions from coal plants.
In the past few days I have received a high volume of correspondence from environmental organizations in preparation for the vote. Most support it, but a few, such as Friends of the Earth, oppose it.* While I sympathize with their concerns, I think that it is better to get something passed now, and fix any problems later, than wait for a bill that may not have a chance of passing through the Senate. Despite its problems, the bill would at least start us moving in the right direction, movement that has been sorely lacking for the past ten years. This summer there is popular support and political leadership in place to get something done. It would be terrible to squander the opportunity and emerge with nothing.

The reporters at Grist have examined the bill's agribusiness compromises and protections for tropical forests.

* If you want to contact your Congresscritter to support the bill, you can do so through the NWF website.