The Energy Bill – Part 3: The Debate

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) passed the House by a very slim margin. It was passed with 219 votes to 212. In my last blog I discussed everything that was found in the draft formulated by co-sponsors Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, both Democratic Representatives. Once the discussion draft made into the House, amendments and changes came. The bill was expanded to about one thousand three hundred pages. There is no doubt that much controversy and debate came over this bill.

The two biggest debates were over money and the environment. Waxman and Markey let a lot of changes occur to their bill. It could be said that they were more worried about getting the bill passed than they were about keeping the plan that was originally drawn up. There were cold welcomes for the bill from many representatives from the Mid West and surrounding areas where coal and farming are the major industries. There were some amendments made to make these industries happy, like giving farmers a carbon offset credit by not tilling the ground which releases carbon into the atmosphere. If industries want more allowance for their carbon emissions they can just invest in some carbon offsetting project, like planting trees. This is a nice gesture, but there is no way of knowing how much carbon is offsetting from these projects. It should be the same amount that the company is getting in extra allowances, but it doesn’t seem the bill is taking that measure.

Money is a big problem among the Republicans. They see the bill as being something that will hurt the economy rather than build it up. Some feel there is not any concern for the public in this bill. They believe care is only for the environment and the large industries. It is estimated that each household will incur about $175 a year by 2020 because of this bill. Also, the allowances will cost $13 to start with and each year will get higher over time. Some believe that $175 maybe the amount that this bill will cost in taxes, but if industries will have to start paying for allowances it will mean that the cost of consumer goods will go up as well. We may have to pay more in taxes, but we will be paying for these companies allowances as well. The price of goods may not go up very much, but they will, most likely go up. Many Republicans tried to make amendments that would cancel the bill if the amount for electricity went up by certain amounts. All of these amendments were rejected. It seems like this bill has forgotten about the people who pay to keep the government going and will be helping to pay for this bill if it passes Senate.

On the complete other spectrum some environmental groups feel the bill is not doing enough to stop pollution and reduce the effect of climate change. There are some who feel that there were too many amendments that weakened the bill to suite those who started opposed to the bill. The bill is a grand step to reducing pollution and the effects of climate change, but many who have seen this bill feel that India and China are going to need to take up similar standards if we are ever to see major impacts on aiding the environment.

Because of these two very shaky reasons there is speculation as to whether this bill will pass the Senate because of how close the vote was in the House. There is no way to know exactly how this bill is going to cost the public. There also is no way to tell how it will affect the economy. One thing is certain though; if the bill does pass the Senate there is still much work to be done to figure out how to implement the laws. This will not happen overnight. The economy could be better by the time the bill is actually put into effect. Who knows? What are your thoughts on this? What input can you give about this bill? Are there other controversies that you know of and could brief us on? This bill could have a major impact on all of our lives.

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