Clean Energy Act a significant step in fighting climate change

On Friday, the House is scheduled to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the US’s first program for addressing climate change. Also known as the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Act, the bill establishes a cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions and promotes solar and wind power…On Friday, the House is scheduled to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the US’s first program for addressing climate change. Also known as the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Act, the bill establishes a cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions and promotes solar and wind power.

While Waxman-Markey Act is far from perfect, we salute Congress for developing an important first step in the fight against climate change, and urge the passage of this bill.

Under the cap and trade program, power plants and factories would have to pay for pollution “permits” from the EPA and could then buy and sell them to other companies.

Over the next 30 years, this policy is expected to result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing half a billion cars from the road.

These emissions reductions would play an important role in reducing the carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere from 387 parts per million to the 350 parts per million that would halt further climate change.

The Waxman-Markey Act comes at a momentous time, with a conference to establish an international climate treaty in Copenhagen in December.

Passage of the bill would send a strong message to the rest of the world about America’s commitment to fighting climate change.

With China and India demanding that the US take more significant steps towards reducing emissions than we have in the past, the Waxman-Markey Act would also encourage others to follow in our footsteps.

Unfortunately, coal and oil interests have succeeded in influencing Congress to dilute some important provisions in the bill.

Lobbying from these sectors resulted in an increase in the number of free pollution permits granted to companies, and a reduction of the original 25% target for electricity from renewable sources to 12%.

Though these compromises weaken the legislation, the US cannot afford to wait for a perfect bill. Congress should embrace the opportunity to take definitive action against global warming.

Opponents argue that the bill imposes a “hidden energy tax,” but an analysis conducted by the Congressional Budget Office shows that costs to consumers would be relatively small (around $140 a year for upper income households) and that poor families would save around $40 a year due to increased energy efficiency.

Opposition to this bill is extremely short sighted. For a small financial savings in the short run, we would be auctioning off the future of the planet to the highest bidder.

“We cannot be afraid of the future, and we cannot be a prisoner of the past,” observed President Obama. For the prosperity and health of future generations, it is essential that Congress seizes this opportunity to reform how we use energy.