Another Obama Victory as House Passes Cap and Trade Bill

By a narrow vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives has passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The most important part of the bill establishes a cap and trade system to combat climate change. The bill will next be debated and voted on in the Senate.

President Obama lobbied hard for passage of the bill. Here is the video:

Obama said, “Now I urge every member of Congress — Democrat and Republican — to come together to support this legislation. I can’t stress enough the importance of this vote. I know this is going to be a close vote, in part because of the misinformation that’s out there that suggests there’s somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and our economic growth. But my call to those members of Congress who are still on the fence, as well as to the American people, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future, and we can’t be prisoners of the past. We’ve been talking about this issue for decades, and now is the time to finally act.”

According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, “The bill covers seven GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). Entities covered by the proposal would include: large stationary sources emitting more than 25,000 tons per year of GHGs, producers (i.e., refineries) and importers of all petroleum fuels, distributors of natural gas to residential, commercial and small industrial users (i.e., local distribution companies), producers of “F‐gases,” and other specified sources. The proposal also calls for regulations to limit black carbon emissions in the United States.”

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The bill also establishes emissions targets through a cap, “The bill establishes emission caps that would reduce aggregate greenhouse gas emissions for all covered entities to 3% below their 2005 levels in 2012, 17% below 2005 levels in 2020, 42% below 2005 levels in 2030, and 83% below 2005 levels in 2050. Commercial production and imports of HFCs would be addressed under Title VI of the Clean Air Act and are covered under a separate cap. The bill also establishes economy‐wide targets for all sources, including but not limited to those covered by the ap and trade program. These targets are the same percentage reduction and timetables as the cap and trade program, except that the 2020 target is 20% rather than 17% below 2005 levels.”

This was the first step for a piece of legislation that will go a long way towards fulfilling one of President Obama’s campaign promises on energy. The bill now moves to the Senate where its major provisions were already approved by the Energy Committee. Personally, I am not a big fan of cap and trade as a solution to climate change, but there is no doubt that this is a huge political victory for President Obama.

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