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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The votes were strikingly similar. In 1993, the legislation containing the Clinton energy tax was adopted on a 219-to-213 vote with 38 Democrats defecting.

On Friday, the House bill was approved 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats defecting.


We watched part of the House-debate on C-Span
and were fortunate to catch the actual scene when Rep. John Bohner managed to turn his allocated 2 and a half minutes to a full hour diatribe that we summarize in essence as “All pain for the US Citizens and no gain.” He contended that this bill is why the Americans think the government “is out of touch.”   It boils down to FREEDOM he said – “freedom from tax and the right to live their life as they want.” The honorable gentleman seemed clearly floating on a demagoguery streak that bored even his co-partisans we saw on the TV screen – but then this was clearly meant for the folks back home – “the base” – and how will they push US politics in the very near future? The Republicans asked for a roll call and 15 minutes turned into three hour for them to herd their own people to the House, then when Ms. Pelosi called the question, they shouted so loudly that their noise won out and the Democrats had to ask for an actual vote which as said they won. We hope this victory will carry over also to the Senate, and we hope the Senate Bill will be even better – but who knows? At this stage we can only say that the game has started!

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Analysis: Climate Bill May Spur Energy Revolution.

Washington, Saturday 27 June 27, 2009.
by: H. Josef Hebert   of Associated Press
Congress has taken its first step toward an energy revolution, with the prospect of profound change for every household, business, industry and farm in the decades ahead.

It was late Friday when the House passed legislation that would, for the first time, require limits on pollution blamed for global warming – mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Now the Senate has the chance to change the way Americans produce and use energy.

What would the country look like a decade from now if the House-passed bill – or, more likely, a water-down version – were to become the law of the land?

“It will open the door to a clean energy economy and a better future for America,” President Barack Obama said Saturday.

But what does that mean to the average person?

Energy touches every corner of the economy and in countless ways can alter people’s lives.

Such a law would impact how much people pay to heat, cool and light their homes (it would cost more); what automobiles they buy and drive (smaller, fuel efficient and hybrid electric); and where they will work (more “green” jobs, meaning more environmentally friendly ones).

Critics of the House bill brand it a “jobs killer.” Yet it would seem more likely to shift jobs. Old, energy-intensive industries and businesses might scale back or disappear. Those green jobs would emerge, propelled by the push for nonpolluting energy sources.

That could mean making or installing solar panels, repairing wind turbines, producing energy-efficient light bulbs, working for an environmental engineering firm or waste recycler, making equipment that harnesses carbon from coal burning and churning out energy-saving washing machines or air conditioners.

Assembly line workers at factories that made gas-guzzling cars might see their future in producing the next generation of batteries or wind turbine blades – an emerging shift, though on a relatively small scale today. On Wall Street, commodity brokers would trade carbon pollution credits alongside oil futures.

Farmers would see the cost of fertilizer and electricity go up. More windmills would dot their pastures. And a new source of income could come from selling pollution credits by planting trees or changing farming methods to absorb more carbon dioxide.

Energy would cost more because it would become more expensive to produce. For the first time there would be a price on the greenhouse gas pollution created when coal, natural gas or oil are burned. Energy companies would have to pay for technologies that can capture the carbon emissions, purchase pollution allowances or shift to cleaner energy sources.

It all costs.

Investors would see a new line item on companies financial reports: the cost of carbon permits.

Some increases would be reflected in the prices of goods and services, economics say. It might mean shelling out more for a toy because plastic, a petroleum based product, is more expensive, or paying more for a house because of new efficiency requirements.

Not all the higher energy cost would show up in people’s utility bills. Households, as well as business and factories – including those, for example, making plastic for toys – could use less energy, or at least use it more efficiently. The poorest of homes could get a government check as a rebate for high energy costs. That money would come from selling pollution allowances for industry.

Energy experts in government and industry say a price on carbon pollution would lead to new ways to make renewable energy less expensive, while emphasizing how people can use it more wisely.

Potential changes to how homes are built and even financed seem likely as energy efficiency is taken into account in building codes and the cost of mortgages. With the cost of energy increasing, homeowners and businesses would have greater incentive to use more energy efficient lighting, windows and insulation.

But don’t think that the traditional sources of energy would disappear.

Coal, which today accounts for half the electricity produced, would continue as a major energy source, though a less polluting one, energy experts forecast. That would mean capturing the carbon released when coal is burned.

It’s a technological hurdle with a complication: “not in my back yard” complaints over what to do with the billions of tons of carbon dioxide captured from power plants and pumped beneath the earth. Would people feel comfortable having it stored near or under their homes, factories and businesses?

Scientists studying climate change say carbon capture from power plants is essential if the country is to take up the challenge against global warming.

The cleaner energy economy also put nuclear energy front and center. Does the U.S. build new power plants? If so, where, and where does all the waste go? Nuclear energy makes up about one-fifth of the nation’s electricity today.

The House-passed bill contains provisions to make it easier to get loan guarantees and expands the nuclear industry’s access to loans for reactor construction. An Environmental Protection Agency analysis that shows modest future costs from a low-climate energy world assumes a significant expansion of nuclear energy. The Senate could add more incentives for the nuclear industry.

The new energy world would rely more on natural gas. This abundant fossil fuel emits carbon but is relatively clean when compared with coal. But people would have to decide whether to accept new pipelines that are needed to ship the gas around the country – just as they would have to deal with the need for new power lines to move solar and wind energy to where it’s needed.

——-

H. Josef Hebert has covered energy and environmental issues for The Associated Press since 1990.
===========

but in New York Times “Congressional Memo” a warning:

Climate Change Bill May Be Election Issue.

By CARL HULSE
Published: New York Times, June 27, 2009.
WASHINGTON — As Democrats strained to win over crucial holdouts on the way to narrow, party-line approval of global warming legislation, they were dogged by a critical question: Has the political climate changed since 1993?

Related in New York Times online:
Energy Bill Drives Out Health Care From Address (June 28, 2009)

House Passes Bill to Address Threat of Climate Change (June 27, 2009)

Dot Earth: The Climate Bill in Climate Context

Dot Earth: The Specter of the ’93 Energy Tax (June 28, 2009)

House Roll Call Vote on Climate Change

Veteran members of both parties vividly remember when many House Democrats, in the early months of the Clinton administration, reluctantly backed a proposed B.T.U. tax — a new levy on each unit of energy consumed — only to see it ignored by the Senate and seized as a campaign issue by Republicans, who took control of the House the next year.

“A lot of Democrat members got burnt on that vote,” warned Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, who called the climate change measure the defining vote of this, the 111th, Congress.

In a Congress likely to consider a health care overhaul, new ways to govern the financial sector and immigration changes after already approving a $787 billion economic stimulus, there is serious competition for the title of defining vote.

But the climate change measure, a high priority of President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will no doubt be right at the top of the list. Interest groups on both sides of the issue promise to hinge their support on how lawmakers vote on the bill and actively oppose those who go the other way.

The moment the House approved the bill, Mr. Obama took the opportunity to start increasing pressure on the Senate, where the legislation again faces tough opposition. He had already recorded and distributed the text of his weekly Saturday address, on the urgency of doing something about health care this year. But he pulled it back and substituted a message focusing on the climate victory.

“I want to congratulate the House for passing this bill,” he said, “and I want to urge the Senate to take this opportunity to come together and meet our obligations — to our constituents, to our children, to God’s creation and to future generations.”

Leading Democrats say they are more than happy to have the energy bill serve as a signature issue. They say it represents a transformative moment — their party’s effort to take on a genuine threat to the planet. They say voters will appreciate the legislation as an overdue effort to lessen the nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil while creating millions of new jobs in the production and distribution of cleaner energy and in energy conservation technology.

“The American people understand that we can no longer sweep big national problems under the rug and that we had to have an energy policy for the 21st century,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The two parties have dueled for months over the costs and benefits of the measure, and that debate is certain to continue into the midterm elections of November 2010. But it will mainly be a message battle because even if a climate change bill is passed and signed into law this year as Congressional Democrats and the White House hope, the practical effects will not be felt until after the election.

Republicans obviously saw the parallels between the 1993 vote and the one Friday. As the gavel came down on their failed push to derail the bill, Republicans chanted “B.T.U., B.T.U.” and seemed almost in a celebratory mood.

“On the floor, it felt like we won,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a party political strategist. “They put a lot of guys on the line.”

The votes were strikingly similar. In 1993, the legislation containing the Clinton energy tax was adopted on a 219-to-213 vote with 38 Democrats defecting.

On Friday, the House bill was approved 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats defecting.

In an indication of the queasiness among some Democrats, House approval came only after a determined campaign to sway wavering lawmakers. It took personal intervention by the president and vice president; members of the cabinet; the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel; Ms. Pelosi; and even last-minute agreements were struck on the House floor.

It was a significant victory for both the president and Congressional Democrats, and it came on an issue that many expected could prove tougher than a health care overhaul. But as progress on health care legislation slowed and consumed much of the attention, Democrats were able to ease the climate change legislation forward, almost under the radar.

Top Democrats say they believe the victory on climate change — setting up a tough summer debate in the Senate — can translate to progress on other difficult issues as lawmakers see Democrats can advance even the most problematic measures.

“Momentum builds on momentum,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Still, the vote represents a significant risk. As on the economic stimulus and potentially on a health care bill, Republican votes were scarce, creating a clear contrast between the two parties.

And Republicans — who last year made “drill, baby, drill” their slogan for more, not less, production of the fossil fuels that generate heat-trapping gases along with power, and scored some political gains before the price of oil and gasoline plunged from historic peaks — believe that energy is an issue where they have shown the ability to get some traction.

They also intend to pound home the prospect that the legislation could put the United States at a competitive disadvantage and drive more jobs overseas.

But Democrats view the measure as a singular achievement, with Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and one of its authors, comparing it to a combination of the Apollo Project and the Civil Rights Act.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, said that he believed the political impact of the B.T.U. tax had been exaggerated and that he expected no serious fallout over the new measure. Also, many of the most vulnerable Democrats voted against the measure.

“Mark this day, June 26, 2009,” Mr. Hoyer intoned on the floor just before passage of the climate bill.

No doubt both parties already have.

——————–

Kevin Knobloch, President of The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) writes:

This legislation does not include everything we wanted—nor did we expect it would—but it establishes a critical first step in building the foundation to rein in global warming pollution, reduce our dependence on oil, and transition to a clean energy economy.

What’s more, in a clear victory for science, the bill includes key provisions ensuring these policies can be strengthened in the future in response to emerging climate science—provisions UCS helped write and win support for.

History has shown that when it comes to cleaning up our environment, getting a national policy in place makes an enormous difference. Again and again, we have shown that we can rise to the challenge set by these national policies by meeting and surpassing environmental standards through innovation, smart science, and American ingenuity. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act made possible the healthier environment that we take for granted today. When people saw that these vital pieces of legislation were saving lives and helping us breathe easier and drink safer water, they pushed for more. And then we were able to make these protections even stronger.

But we have a long, up-hill battle before us to ensure this groundbreaking legislation becomes law—and the scientific and technical expertise UCS brings to these issues will be essential in this fight. The House of Representatives has shown the way forward, but now our work moves to the Senate where we’ll once again be up against the coal and oil industries and the legislators who support them.

President Obama has already expressed support for this bill. But we will need your help to put a strong bill over the finish line. Specifically, you can help turn up the heat on the Senate to act quickly and ensure that we enact a final bill that helps build a revitalized clean energy economy, while reducing the threat of global warming.


————–

Kate Shepard of GRIST evaluates the achievements in above vote as follows:

A number of politically vulnerable first- and second-term Democrats voted against the bill. And some Democrats from farm states joined the opposition, even after the Agriculture Committee managed to secure major concessions blocking the EPA from overseeing the carbon offset program for farmers.

And the narrow win came after much coercion from Democratic leaders in the House and White House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with a number of lawmakers who were on the fence this week, and a team of seven whips were deployed to meet with fence-sitters to allay their concerns.

Top administration officials and the president himself were also lighting up Capitol phone lines to lobby for votes. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) said he received calls from both Obama and climate czar Carol Browner asking him to support the bill, which he ultimately did. Freshman Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) also said she shifted to a “yes” vote after a chat with Obama.

At least one other Democrat who looked like a “no” vote this morning, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, declared late in the day that he would support the bill. Pushing aside concerns that Waxman-Markey is too weak, Doggett said he decided to vote for it after listening to Republican lawmakers repeatedly deny that there is a climate crisis.

“I believe there is still some hope to make improvements to this bill once it gets out of the House,” said Doggett. “Better to have a seat at the table to try to influence the change that is needed to this legislation.”

Just eight Republicans voted in favor of the measure: Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Mike Castle (Del.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), John McHugh (N.Y.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Chris Smith (N.J), Leonard Lance (N.J), and Mark Kirk (Ill.). Without those GOP votes, the measure would have failed.

Now, to the Senate!

President Obama immediately praised the passage of the bill on Friday night, and called on the Senate to follow suit.

“Today the House of Representatives took historic action with the passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act,” said Obama. “It’s a bold and necessary step that holds the promise of creating new industries and millions of new jobs, decreasing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”

“Now it’s up to the Senate to take the next step,” he continued.

As Grist reported earlier this week, environmental groups are already working to secure improvements in the Senate.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a statement congratulating House leaders for the landmark passage. Boxer has pledged to have her own climate bill, likely based on Waxman-Markey, passed out of committee in August.

“There are very few bills that we pass that trigger so many benefits for the American people—energy efficiency, new jobs, cleaner air, healthier families, and energy independence,” said Boxer. “This bill gives us the momentum we need in the Senate, and signals that when we promised change for the better in America, we meant it.”

Senate Democrats’ last attempt to pass a climate bill failed by a large margin in June 2008, and senators have already rejected an attempt to exempt the climate bill from being filibustered.   It takes 60 votes to end debate on legislation in the Senate; Democrats hold 59 seats in the Senate (60 if you count Al Franken, of course). But a number of Midwestern and Southern Democrats have expressed concerns about passing the legislation, and few observers expect more than two or three GOP lawmakers to vote for a climate bill.

Meanwhile, the energy bill approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week was significantly weaker than provisions in Waxman-Markey. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he wants every committee in the Senate to complete work on climate and energy legislation by mid-September, so there is still a good deal of time left to shape legislation before the Senate adjourns for the year in November or December.

Praise for passage rolling in

Today’s victory in the House kicked off celebrations in the environmental community.

“The House of Representatives has made a dramatic breakthrough for America’s future by choosing to create jobs, move to clean energy, and reduce global warming pollution,” said a statement from Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “While passing the bill through the House took hard work and compromises on many sides, this is strong and vital legislation that Congress needs to deliver to the President’s desk this year.”

“Today’s vote creates momentum for our country to reduce global warming pollution and advance clean energy solutions,” said Howard A. Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.   “We appreciate the Midwest and Great Plains legislators who stood up for the future and voted in favor of this vital legislation.”

————–

“This bill sets the stage for the dawn of the clean energy future. While imperfect, it sets forth a set of goals America must achieve—and exceed,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope.

“We urged the House to pass this bill so that we could work to strengthen it before it reaches President Obama’s desk,” said Pope, emphasizing that the group wants to see the provisions dealing with old coal plants, energy efficiency, and portion of credits polluters will have to buy adjusted.

————-

Greenpeace, however, stuck to its guns on opposing the bill as too weak. The group issued a statement from deputy campaigns director Carroll Muffett calling the “passage of the inadequate ACES bill … a victory for coal industry lobbyists, oil industry lobbyists, agriculture industry lobbyists, steel and cement industry lobbyists, among many others.”

“[I]t is a tremendous loss for the American people or for the world in our common fight to avert climate catastrophe,” said Muffett.

==============

The 8 Republicans that voted for the Waxman-Markey Bill:     Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), John McHugh (R-N.Y.), David Reichert (R-Wash.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.) Those are on the correct side of the angels.

But among   the “Naysayers” we have 44 Democrats voting against the Waxman-Markey Bill – what was the risk they took?

We know at least of one who thought the bill was not good enough   – that was Congessman Dennis Kucinich. We do not know if there were others that thought like him, or if all other 43 gambled their political future on the Republican side?

Jason Altmire (D-Pa.)

John Barrow (D-Ga.)

Marion Berry (D-Ark.)

Dan Boren (D-Okla.)

Bobby Bright (D-Ala.)

Christopher P. Carney (D-Pa.)

Travis W. Childers (D-Miss.)

Jim Costa (D-Calif.)

Jerry Costello (D-Ill.)

Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.)

Artur Davis (D-Ala.)

Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.)

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)

Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)

Chet Edwards (D-Texas)

Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.)

Bill Foster (D-Ill.)

Parker Griffith (D-Ala.)

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.)

Tim Holden (D-Pa.)

Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)

Larry Kissell (D-N.C.)

Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

Jim Marshall (D-Ga.)

Eric Massa (D-N.Y.)

Jim Matheson (D-Utah)

Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.)

Charlie Melancon (D-La.)

Walt Minnick (D-Idaho)

Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.)

Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.)

Glenn Nye (D-Va.)

Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas)

Tom Petri (R-Wis.)

Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.)

Tom Price (D-N.C.)

Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.)

Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas)

Mike Ross (D-Ark.)

John Salazar (D-Colo.)

Fortney Pete Stark (D-Calif.)

John Tanner (D-Tenn.)

Gene Taylor (D-Miss.)

Charles Wilson (D-Ohio)

Not voting: Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), and John Sullivan (R-Okla.).

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3 Responses to “President Obama’s Waxman-Markey 2009 Energy and Climate Bill passed in the House, but so did President Clinton’s 1993 B.T.U. Tax Bill with a very similar vote – but that one lost out in the Senate. Did America’s intelligence grow sufficiently since those days of old? Perhaps it will be the 2008-2009 decrease in the hold of the Republican party on the concept of values that will carry the day this time?”

  1. Rosie Says:

    One question, please? Why is B.O. enlisting GE in his clean energy pitch? GE stands to make a nice little bundle of money from the deal – yet they are on the Toxic Top 10 list of Worst Polluters in the Nation. What am I missing? Anyone?

     www.peri.umass.edu/toxic100/

  2. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Says:

    Gravitational waves and radiation, from the centre of our galaxy and even from higher regions in our universe, are pouring on our earth planet. The findings of Weber (1970, 1972) for the effect of gravitational radiation coming from the regions near the Galactic centre were termed as pseudodiscoveries. However, I think that Weber was right. Such radiation is the main cause of sudden shift in Earth’s natural system. .

    I feel that time has come to consider synthesis of faith based predictions and scientific findings. Then only uncertainty over known and unknown data prediction will be removed to a great extent and they can be understood well.

  3. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi Says:

    “Weber (1970) had demonstrated experimentally the reception of gravitational radiation. He reported that massive aluminium cylinders cylinders (1.5 tons each) spaced 1000 km apart start vibrating at a frequency of about ?10?^3 Hz under the effect of gravitational radiation coming from the regions near the Galactic centre. The power of this radiation, if it really originates near the Galactic centre (the distance of about ?10?^4 parsecs ? 3.?10?^22cm), must be as high ?10?^50 or ?10?^52erg s^(-1)and higher. The energy corresponding to the Sun’s rest mass is M?c^2 ~ ?10?^54 ergs and hence if there really occurs emission of radiation from the Galactic centre with the power of ?10?^52-?10?^52erg s^(-1), then the mass of this region must decrease by (?10?^3-3.?10?^5) M? a year due to gravitational radiation alone. It is hard to believe that such a powerful gravitational radiation exists, although it is feasible energetically. [Source: Key Problems of Physics and Astrophysics by V.L.Ginzburg, Translated from the Russian by Oleg Glebov, Mir Publishers, Moscow, 1976].” Later this was termed as pseudo discovery. But these findings seem to be more relevant now in view of very uncertain and unpredictable behavior of Earth climate.

    If the effect of radiation from the region of Galactic centre is so immense, then what about the effect of emission of gravitational radiation coming from very far distant galaxy than the region of our own galactic region? And also think over the effect of Radiation coming from the Centre of our Universe. This is unimaginable. We should take these unknown factors under our consideration. Pollution control cannot help much.

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