Climate bill to be marked up this week

18 May 2009 — The House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin marking up a revised climate change and energy bill May 18. Chairman Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.), said he expects the panel to approve the measure by the end of the week. While negotiations with moderate Democrats are continuing, Waxman announced agreements on a number of issues and said he has enough votes to get the bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, out of committee.

Republicans, who unveiled an alternative to the bill May 14, said they have drafted some 200 amendments, although they may not offer that many. The committee's revisions are not complete, but some changes have surfaced. Free greenhouse gas emission allowances would be distributed to (among others):

  • 35 percent to the electric utility industry with 30 percent going to local distribution utilities and 5 percent to merchant coal generators. Free credits would be phased out over a five-year period from 2026 through 2029.

  • 9 percent to local natural gas distribution utilities with a 2026-2030 phase-out.

  • 15 percent to energy-intensive industries in 2014, decreasing based on the percentage of emissions reductions and phased out completely after 2025.

  • 2 percent from 2014-2017 and 5 percent in subsequent years to help electric utilities cover the costs of installing and operating carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

  • 10 percent phasing down to 5 percent to states for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

  • 3 percent phasing down to 1 percent for investments in electric vehicles.

Some of the unallocated allowances will be auctioned to ensure that the bill is budget-neutral. The rest will be used for consumer protections.

Also, the bill would have a combined 20 percent renewable energy and energy efficiency standard. By 2020, utilities would be required to obtain 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources and demonstrated annual electricity savings of 5 percent from efficiency measures.

State governors may reduce these requirements by a few percentage points if the governor determines utilities cannot meet the requirements. The original version of the bill had a renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2020 and a separate energy efficiency standard.

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