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Waxman-Markey Passes the House

About an hour ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act with a vote of 219-212. The bill is expected to move to the Senate for debate after the July 4 holiday.

The bill, which features cap-and-trade legislation, represents a landmark step for the United States in finally taking decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But, as a team of leading U.S. scientists warned earlier this week, this passage is only the beginning.

Congratulations to all of our allies who have worked very hard to help make this happen. We hope that this is not a summit, but rather the first taste of much better policy to come.

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It was close. It's too bad they didn't listen to more economists about the issue. Now it will have to be fought in the Senate.

Posted by: Ford on 27 Jun 09

The Energy efficiency legislation in Waxman-Markey is supposed to be great at contributing to lowering costs...

Yes, ban consumers from buying what they want and applaud the savings!
(Little savings in banning impopular products, and inefficient products need to be popular or noone would buy them, classic example Edison’s light bulb, bought 19 times out of 20 in the USA and therefore a banning priority with a big section 211 all to its own in the Waxman-Markey Bill!).

The fact is that efficiency regulation on a product sacrifices performance, construction, appearance and price features, and does not necessarily give the savings suggested anyway.

onwards regarding efficiency regulation effect on buildings, lightbulbs, cars, dishwashers and other products.

Posted by: peterdub on 27 Jun 09

Hmm, the problem with pure economic analysis of energy is that it provides an imperfect model of the world.

Sure, it would be nice to persuade people to buy more energy efficient gadgets, vehicles etc. by simply pushing up the price of fossil-sourced energy. Economic theory suggests that this will filter through and provide new price signals without the need for pesky government fiddling with product bans etc.

- Large sources of emissions come from agriculture/land use.
- Elasticity of demand for specific products makes the impact of energy prices highly variable and potentially unpredictable.
- Price increased hit the poorest hardest and so are regressive. Yes, it is possible to make price rises revenue neutral but doing this in practise is very hard (and likely to require at least as much government fiddling as product bans).

There are other issues...

Posted by: John Kazer on 29 Jun 09

Of the US environmental movement’s numerous initiatives to address climate change, two are critical in the short term: influencing the legislative process through elections & lobbying, and getting the public to take action. While the 6000 or so US environmental non-profits and hundreds of green-tech firms coordinate on specific initiatives, the lack of true synchronization, especially among non-profits, is a major barrier to achieving significant scale and impact. Further, many key non-profits draw on the same few funding sources. Massive duplication of effort, inefficiency, fragmentation, and reduced impact result from the competition for funds and the overlapping and at times conflicting actions aimed at the same target populations.

In contrast, big business significantly outspends and “out-coordinates” environmental organizations on lobbying, getting legislators elected and informing the public. While it would be difficult to match business’ spending, the environmental movement can significantly enhance its leverage and impact by taking a page from big business’ playbook on how to align organizations with disparate yet overlapping interests; using the key harmonizing mechanism of a national trade association such as the US Chamber of Commerce or the American Banking Association. Further, associations have been instrumental in swaying public opinion, e.g. the insurance industry’s “Harry & Louise” campaign, the United Negro College Fund’s, "A Mind is a Terrible Thing To Waste," campaign and the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” advertisements.

Even with differences in philosophy, interests and approach among environmental organizations there are areas of considerable overlap in which coordinated decisions, actions and funding would greatly enhance their power. A national trade association, properly structured with a core set of high-value services, provides this leverage. This association would:
➢ Foster agreement on the few key issues that are the most urgent to address in the short- and medium-term
➢ Present a common face and single voice to external stakeholders, especially legislators and the public
➢ Enable members to re-focus their efforts and spending on the areas closest to their missions
➢ Identify key influence and education opportunities and get the right members collaborating on these initiatives
➢ Assist in allocating resources to the most fruitful research areas, serving as a focal point for the most topical research and reducing the overlap in members’ research agendas

Posted by: Peter Hess on 30 Jun 09

The bottom line is that this bill will mean higher costs for everyone in this country. Higher gas prices, higher energy costs, higher grocery bills and fewer jobs. Please sign this letter to let congress know what we really think of their bill.

Posted by: Marycella on 2 Sep 09

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