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Boehner

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On Friday, the Democrats narrowly won passage in the House for the 1200-page American Clean Energy and Security Act by a 217-205 votes.

The bill calls on the US to cut production of greenhouse gases by 17% of 1990 levels by 2020 and 83% by mid-century.

Currently US greenhouse gas emissions are rising on average by 1% each year.Despite statements on both sides of the aisle insisting that they want to combat climate change, a number of Republicans and Democrats have been mounting a rear-guard action to weaken the bill, particularly in its long and convoluted passage through the House Energy and Commerce committee.The outcome depends on locking in the so-called “Blue Dog Democrats” and the number of moderate Republicans—despite pressure from republican leadership to kill the bill.

President Obama personally called a number of representatives to get passage of the bill after it looked like it wouldn’t pass the chamber.

On Thursday he called it "a vote of historic proportions ...

that will open the door to a clean energy economy" and green jobs." Obama did not mention climate change in his speech, but the dangers of US “dependence on foreign oil.” Thirty Democrats, concerned about being labeled tax hikers in next years district elections, still voted against it.The bill—proposed by Rep.

Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep.

Ed Markey (D-MA)—works by finally putting a price on US carbon emissions through a scheme called a cap-and-trade system.

The emissions “cap” is decreased each year, and emitters are allowed to “trade” their emissions for cash to allow for some flexibility in meeting CO2 targets.

Energy intensive industries such as aluminum smelters, and users of fuels such as coal and oil are encouraged to switch to more efficient cleaner energy sources through these techniques.

House builders are encouraged to build more energy-efficient buildings as part of the initial construction plans.

Passage was not guaranteed as Republicans tried to tar the bill.

Minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) misleadingly stated on numerous occasions that the average family would have to pay an additional $3100 per household toward their energy costs.

"Democratic leaders are poised to march many moderate Democrats over a cliff ...

by forcing them to vote for a national energy tax that is unpopular throughout the heartland," said Boehner.However, the Congressional Budget Office projects average costs of $175 a year per household by 2020.

Another report—from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)—actually suggests consumers come out ahead as appliances and household electronics become more energy efficient.

To ease these cost concerns and obtain passage, the bill was altered through negotiations with Rep.

Collin Peterson (Dâ€Â"MN) to provide extra money for the agriculture sector—a major greenhouse gas emitter—and to lock in House votes from the rural districts.

But the impression that the public is against this bill could be wrong.

Fifty-two percent of the US public support cap-and-trade legislation, and 75% support regulating greenhouse gas emissions, says a Washington Post-ABC News poll.Cost to the average household is a distraction from the true goals of the bill—limiting climate change.

The increasingly compelling scientific analysis suggesting that climate change is happening at a much more rapid rate than scientists had previously predicted, puts concerns over the cost of the program (if implemented correctly) into the background as the costs of doing nothing are increasingly being viewed as potentially catastrophic.The Senate—where the Obama administration will have to put a lot of support behind the bill—has yet to act on the measure.Paul Guinnessy

http://blogs.physicstoday.org/politics/2009/06/house-narrowly-passes-climate.html
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