06/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Major Compromise on Clean Energy and Green Jobs Bill

Original: Major Compromise on Clean Energy and Green Jobs Bill

Roll Call is reporting that Representatives Waxman (D-CA) and Boucher (D-VA) have reached an agreement on several critical provisions of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The article also confirms roughly what was expected in terms of timeline:

"We have resolved a good number of the issues," Waxman said after a meeting with committee Democrats, adding that the bill remains on track to clear his panel next week. Opening statements are planned for Thursday with a marathon markup beginning on Monday.

"I am optimistic. I believe we will have the votes to pass the bill [next week]," Waxman said.

Sadly, in order to secure the votes he needed from his own party, Representative Waxman was forced to compromise on some key provisions of the legislation.

Emission Reduction by 2020 Renewable Electricity Standard Pollution Permit Allocations
May 12th Compromise 17% Below 2005 Levels by 2020 15% Renewable and 5% Efficiency Gains, Governors can adjust to 12% Renewable and 8% Efficiency Gains Most will be Given Away to Polluters Free of Charge
Original Discussion Draft 20% below 2005 Levels by 2020 25% Renewable by 2025 Not Specified
What Obama Campaigned on (PDF) 80% Below 1990 Levels by 2050 10% Renewable by 2012, 25% Renewable by 2025 100% Auction
What Europe is Doing 20% Below 1990 Levels by 2020, May Bump to 30% Goal of 22% by 2010 Most were Given Away to Polluters Free of Charge
What I think the Bill Should do, at Minimum At least 20% below 1990 Levels by 2020 25% Renewable by 2025 100% Auction

Bottom line: As the American Clean Energy and Security Act clears its first procedural hurdle next week (the House Energy and Commerce Committee), it will have already been significantly weakened. It is simply not as strong as a) Obama's campaign promises, b) what Europe is doing or c) what scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Incredibly, even with massive majorities in both branches of Congress, Democratic Leadership is unable to pass a bill that does what is necessary. As I"ve mentioned previously, polluting industries continue to dominate the legislative process by bankrolling candidates who vote against environmental regulations. This problem will not go away until we fundamentally change Congress.

I'll reserve judgment on whether I think the package moving through Energy and Commerce is worth supporting until the full details of the agreement are released on Thursday. For the time being I'll just note that I'm extremely disappointed with the details that have emerged so far. President Obama needs to take steps to ensure that America's climate policy is taken seriously at the international negotiations this December in Copenhagen. If he intends to expend any political capital to make that a reality he needs to do so now, before so-called moderate Democrats from coal country succeed in making the bill ineffective.