Unprecedented Coalition Sets Stage for Climate Bill to Move to Full House

The race is on in Washington and at international talks continuing throughout the year to bring the era of fossil fuel dominance to a close. National Wildlife Federation called the recent passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act through the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s “the vote heard around the world.”

A strong (and bipartisan) 33-25 vote in the House Committee pulled the winning votes together from a range of districts around the country representing rust belt, farm belt, and oil patch states that so many doubters said would not deliver in the end.

Winning in itself is critical to keeping momentum moving forward, but in the process, the coalition that has formed lays the groundwork for comprehensive energy policy that is embraced in every corner of the nation.

There is time and room for improvement, but the core of the bill is an agreement to steadily reduce emissions of carbon pollution by about two percent per year starting in 2012. The legislation includes a host of other important measures, including: building codes that will help cut the energy use of new buildings in half by 2015, approximately $10 billion annually in new funding to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and a remarkably ambitious and well-funded effort to reduce deforestation around the world.

The elements form a bolder whole that will slash our dependence on oil; put our economy back on track with millions of new, clean energy jobs while shifting energy production toward cleaner, cheaper and safer sources like wind and solar; and dramatically cut the carbon pollution that causes global warming. It will create the industries of tomorrow with America out front and in the lead. It’s a sharp departure from the past as the bill progresses to its next phase in the House.

While it’s too early to say for sure, preliminary indications are that full House debate may begin by the July 4th Congressional recess.

Published: June 5, 2009