Sunday, June 28, 2009

House Passes Crucial Climate Change Legislation

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the first Congressional attempt to regulate greenhouse gases. Sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), the bill establishes a cap-and-trade system, which places a limit on emissions, but allows a company to sell the remainder of its quota to other companies. Over time, the cap is decreased, encouraging an industry-wide reduction in emissions. It sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050, and aims for a renewable energy standard of 20 percent by 2020. The bill was highly contentious, with detractors arguing that it imposes a tax on consumers. The bill passed 219-212, with 44 Democrats voting against it and eight Republicans breaking ranks to support it. The legislation now moves onto the Senate, where a heated debate is expected.

At, Nate Silver writes about the politics of the bill and analyzes the state-by-state economics of a cap-and-trade policy.