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The Waxman-Markey, American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES, H.R. 2454) has stalled for now in Congress, but it is never very far from the news.  The Bugle has covered this bill before. The bill was narrowly (219-212) passed out of the House in June. A Senate vote was recently delayed for lack of support and the bill that comes out of the Senate may little resemble the ACES bill.

flying_a_ad2H.R. 2454 has a lot of problems and alternatives are easy to come by. The Natural Resources Defense Council is promoting a Cap and Invest strategy by which profits from carbon credits would be reinvested in alternative energy development. The Montana Environmental Information Center is solidly behind a Cap and Dividend plan that would return profits from carbon credits directly to consumers. Montana Public Service Commissioner Ken Toole has also promoted the Cap and Dividend option. A Cap and Dividend bill (H.R. 1862) was introduced in the House, but has shown no progress thus far.

Whatever the final outcome, it seems likely that the Waxman-Markey bill will get a vote sometime after the furor over health care reform dies down this fall. The Senate Finance committee will have to mark up the money end of the bill and right now, that committee and it’s chairman, Max Baucus are in a bit of a dither over health care.

Now, into the fray steps the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a non-profit group dedicated to promoting energy efficiency. In a new report, ACEEE claims that, with changes in the energy provisions of the bill, ACES could lead to significant savings for the American people. With their suggested improvements, the legislation would “create more than 569,000 new jobs nationwide in the next ten years and provide $283 in annual savings for every  household in America” and “By 2030, these benefits could increase to more than one million jobs and $832 in annual savings per household — all while reducing government-projected levels of nationwide carbon emissions by 15 percent, or 959 million metric tons.

ACEEE doesn’t ignore the fact that there will likely be significant costs to the economy due to the cap and trade provisions of the bill, but they feel that most, if not all, of the perceived costs can be mitigated by increased efficiencies in the energy markets. Here is a breakdown of some of the benefits that they feel could accrue to Montana if the bill is modified.

  • Net consumer savings to the Montana economy.  $2o4,000 by 202 and $577,000 by 2030
  • Net Jobs created in Montana.  2,100 by 2020 and 3,100 by 2030
  • Net Annual savings per Household. $476 by 2020 and 1,347 by 2030
  • Equivalent number of autos taken off of Montana highways. 445,705 by 2020 and 474,955 by 2030

So, while the Bugle still feels that Waxman-Markey is not the best bill we could come up with, there is a possibility that improvements can be made. Our support would still likely hinge on severe changes to other aspects of the bill that were written by energy industry lobbyists and large improvements to specific cap provisions that are not likely to happen before the bill comes up for a vote. We’ll see.


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