The second day of markup on the Waxman/Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) saw a series of amendments from opponents designed to weaken the green economy bill fail in a series of votes. The debate on amendments will continue today and the sessions appear on track to get the bill voted out of committee before this weekend. As the committee discusses the landmark legislation, the Center for American Progress released an analysis of new numbers from the Union of Concerned Scientists showing that households and businesses will save money on their electricity and natural gas bills if Congress passes a Renewable Energy Standard, currently included in ACES.
The renewable energy standard (RES), a key part of the Waxman/Markey bill, requires that 15% of electricity comes from wind, sun, or other renewable sources. In yesterday’s session, bill opponents continued to cite a variety of debunked numbers on increased costs to consumers, but this analysis shows that Americans will save money with the RES included in the bill. States across the country have already seen similar savings as they have implemented RES at the state level. A review by CAP found that half the states have amended their RES after implementation to make it stronger, suggesting its been a successful policy in the states.
Back in the committee, Republican opponents read from a script described by Politico as making “counterintuitive” arguments. Their new approach was based on a strategy memo urging opponents to attack the responsible business leaders who support clean energy legislation. The memo accuses businesses of being “guilty of manipulating national climate policy to increase profits on the backs of consumers.” The tone-deaf message of the memo won’t change the fact that businesses see ACES as a chance to create jobs and begin to chart a course out of the current recession. And the script urged:
The bottom line message is this: Democrats are protecting big business; Republicans are protecting consumers.
This ignores the fact that Republicans opposed every effort in 2008 to lower gasoline prices and rein in oil companies.
Amendments that passed yesterday included a provision introduced by Reps. Dingell and Inslee for a Clean Energy Deployment Administration within the Energy Department. This “green bank” would serve to promote clean energy projects in the U.S. through affordable financing for clean energy technologies. A similar amendment from Rep. Eshoo for a Clean Technology grant program also passed. Another major amendment passed was Rep. Betty Sutton’s (D-MI) “cash for clunkers” automotive upgrade program.
Today we can expect to see more weakening amendments introduced, and if yesterday is any guide, they are likely to be defeated as champions of the bill hold the line on producing a strong bill that creates jobs and makes a real difference in ending our addiction to foreign oil.