Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Friday, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 2998, better known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, following days of debate. The final vote was 219–212, with only 8 Republicans voting for the legislation, and 44 Democrats voting against it. The resolution addresses the “greenhouse effect,” and calls for a 17% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and an 83% reduction by 2050. In addition, the legislation will establish new requirements for utilities, and various incentives for “going green.”

The resolution was sponsored by Representative Henry Waxman of California, and Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts. At 3:09 a.m. (EDT) on Friday morning, a 341 page amendment was added to the resolution. In an attempted filibuster, House Minority Leader John Boehner read the majority of the added amendment, and stated that “…when you file a 300-page amendment at 3:09 a.m., the American people have a right to know what’s in this bill.”

Reactions to the legislation have been mixed, with opponents and advocates speaking out. The President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Kevin Knobloch, said that the Union was “thrilled that Congress has finally caught up with science and the American people in recognizing the need to switch on clean energy.” A report by the The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, stated that the legislation would “damage the economy and hobble growth.”

Most House Republicans opposed the bill for going too far in its regulation, with GOP chairman Mike Pence saying that “raising the cost of energy is a bad idea in prosperous times.” Democrat Dennis Kucinich, on the other hand, opposed the bill for not going far enough, calling it an “illusion” that “locks us into a framework that will fail.” Kucinich pointed out that the bill gives subsidies to coal, which is not a clean source of fuel, and includes greenhouse gas emitters such as trash incinerators under its definition of “renewable energy.”

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