The Dernogalizer

May 20, 2009

Climate Bill Updates

And the debate of the Waxman-Markey climate bill continues today.  It’s looking like a very long, slow process, with the Republicans looking to introduce over 400 amendments to try and weaken or gut the bill.  As of right now the bill is intact.  I thought it would be reasonable to give an update on an actual useful amendment that was just introduced by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, which will have the EPA set up a voluntary carbon label system.  If companies choose, they can have the carbon footprint of their products labeled so that consumers can make more informed choices.  Kind of like how there are food labels on our products that tell us how many calories are in them.  I for one would be interested in knowing the carbon footprint of the products I buy.  The vote on the amendment just happened, and it just passed along a party-line vote.

**Update 5/20/09, 7:08 pm**:  There’s an article out that the bill has the votes at this moment to pass the committee.

**Update 5/20/09, 8:56 pm **:  There’s a very prolonged argument going on right now about the “Murphy” amendment, which is a bill introduced by a Pennsylvannian Republican that would negate the entire bill if there if there are over 10,000 steel jobs lost.  Congressman Mike Doyle got passionate against this because  in his district the steelworkers are an important constituency, and they are strongly for the bill.  Some Republicans questioned that perhaps the president of the steelworkers union is wrong.  This has sparked a greater debate about the job creating potential of the bill(says Democrats) versus the job killing(Republicans).  Waxman and Barton are going back and forth now.  And here  comes the vote…..wait now there’s another debate about global warming…and here’s the vote…party line vote, amendment fails.

**Update 5/20/09, 9:25 pm**:  There’s an amendment being considered that would strike down an EPA ruling that when we are using biofuels we should account for the full carbon lifecycle of them.  This means if I’m burning a biofuel that was grown from deforested land in Indonesia, the carbon addition from that deforestation is taken into account in our counting of the greenhouse gases we’re regulating.  I’m glad to see that this amendment is going to fail, although a couple Democrats with farming interests in their states voted with the Republicans, and one of the Republicans Mary Bono Mack of California voted “no” with the Democrats.  Interesting.                       

**Update 5/20/09, 10:06 pm**:  Congressman Stupak of Michigan, who has been very experienced in the derivatives trading of the markets, just introduced an amendment to tighten government oversight of the carbon market to prevent speculators like in the oil market from being able to unfairly manipulate and profit off of cap and trade.  This amendment has stalled temporarily because some members of the committee including the chair are unable to understand the significance of a portion of the amendment.  I’d imagine since its a Democrat introducing the amendment that it will get a party-line vote, but if I’m still watching when it’s decided I’ll return to this.                  

**Update 5/20/09, 10:17 pm**: Congresswoman Blackburn of Tenneese has introduced an amendment taking authority away from the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which the Supreme Court ruled the EPA could do, and which the EPA declared it would do.  This amendment is absolutely ridiculous, but thats fine since this amendment is going to get shot down.  I still thought it was worth documenting that someone had the audacity to do this.              

**Update 5/20/09, 11:02 pm**:  Congressman’s Stupak’s regulatorry bill(which I mentioned above) has finally been resumed for debate.  It looks like there’s some contention amongst the conservative Democrats and Stupak over whether or not the amendment is appropriate, with the Republicans joining in on the fray.  Interestingly enough, Republican Mary Bono Mack, who I’ve been told is the lone Republican who might vote for this bill, has voted in favor of the Democrat amendment.  The contentious amendment just passed.            

**Update 5/20/09, 11:17 pm**: Republican Phil Gingery(who hates this bill) has introduced a very intriguing amendment.  One problem that environmentalists have with the compromises in the bill, is that a large portion of the allowances are given away for free to industry and utilities.  This amendment would have a 100% auction of the pollution permits under the cap and trade bill, with all of the money rebated back to the states it came from.  Then the Governors of each state would rebate the money back to energy consumers so that they are entirely compensated for the cost of higher electricity prices.  This is actually a method supported by CCAN, called the cap and dividend approach, is considered a very sound one in the environmental community.  The problem that I see with this amendment is that the sponsors of the bill(Waxman and Markey) have made a lot of deals under the current cap and trade bill with coal and oil state Democrats to allocate their industries in their states some free allowances, in exchange for them to vote yes.  This amendment, while I sense the environmental community would largely like, would break apart the coalition that current supports the bill.   I do not think Congressman Gingery is legitimately trying to make the bill stronger, I think he is just trying to split the coalition so that the bill fails.  I can see chairman Markey sees whats going on here, and he realizes the political ramifications.  As much as I wish we were doing a 100% auction of the permits, I can see here how passage would end up tanking the bill.  A lot of Republicans voted with the Democrats against this strengthening amendment.  It failed.

And they’re done for the evening at 11:35.  Jeez.  I’ll be in DC taking part in some of the climate bill action in the halls of Congress, so there likely will not be an update until tomorrow evening.                       


1 Comment »

  1. […] been giving consistent updates on the proceedings in the Energy and Commerce Committee for the Waxman-Markey climate change bill […]

    Pingback by Climate Bill Update « The Dernogalizer — May 21, 2009 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

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