On Monday, House Democrats released a revised 1,200 page energy bill, clearing the way for a possible floor vote on HR 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, as early as today. As of press time, the House voted to bring the bill to the floor by a vote of 217 to 205 but has just begun debate.
The legislation which would impose limits for the first time on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution from, for example, power plants, factories and refineries, has faced major debate but has become a priority for the Obama Administration as President Obama and his aides have been pushing for votes all week.
On May 21, the House Energy Committee approved a 946-page version of the bill out on a final vote of 33 to 25 after four days of markup sessions where dozens of amendments were considered. The bill then was referred to eight other committees, including the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Science and Technology Committee. Yesterday, Waxman released a manager’s amendment that reflects additional deals reached among lawmakers.
The substitute amendment posted by the Rules Committee late Monday expands upon the version reported out of the Energy Committee by almost 300 pages. Among the changes made to the previous version, the substitute amendment provides states greater flexibility in using emissions allowances to support renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. The amendment reserves 0.5% of the allowances for tribal renewable energy programs and allows states to use up to 10% of their allowances for the nonfederal share of transportation programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as transit and bicycle facilities. The substitute amendment also makes technical changes to the definition for combined heat and power system savings, ensures that market transformation efforts will be included in measurement of electricity savings, and makes other minor technical changes.
The substitute amendment also reflects changes recommended by the other committees with jurisdiction over the bill. It provides rural electric cooperatives a free 0.5% portion of the emission allowances to be distributed through the cap and trade program. It also includes a provision that resolves another contentious issue for the agriculture industry by reflecting an agreement that the Department of Agriculture, and not the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), would regulate farm and forestry offset projects.
In addition, the substitute amendment specifies that offsets will be allowed for destruction of chlorofluorocarbons (“CFCs”) if permitted by the EPA Administrator under Title VI of the Clean Air Act, and clarifies that offset approval petitions and decisions shall be available to the public. In addition, it provides a role for the Department of Energy and Indian tribes in the national strategy for carbon capture and sequestration, as well as transmission planning, and support for tribal renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Other changes to the bill address building code language regarding “cool roofs,” technical changes to transportation efficiency sections, carbon market assurance, and exportation of clean technology, among others.
The full text of the bill may be found at the House Rules Committee’s web page: http://www.rules.house.gov/.