Thursday, June 25, 2009

You'd think it would be easy to find the text of the Waxman-Markey bill....

(UPDATE: so it passed 219-212, Grist calling it one more than the 218 minimum needed to pass (that doesn't sound right to me, but whatever). Regardless, I'd like the enviros who think it's too weak to support to explain how they would both strengthen it significantly and still get a majority. Next is trying to get 60 votes in the Senate. I'd be pretty amazed to see even something as strong as this version make it all the way through.)

I think there's some wrong information about the Waxman-Markey bill, like this opposition message from the Climate Crisis Coalition:

ACESA's Major Flaws:

1) Weak cap. ACESA's cap on greenhouse gas emissions represents reductions of only 1‑4% below 1990 levels by 2020, far less than climate scientists deem necessary.

2) Offsets further weaken the cap. ACESA overwhelms its own cap by allowing two billion tons of dubious "offsets" annually, with up to two‑thirds from international sources which could allow U.S. emissions to keep increasing until 2040. ACESA's offsets provisions have been further weakened by the latest compromise: transerring EPA oversight to the Department of Agriculture and excluding indirect impacts of biofuels production.

3) Fails to put a meaningful price on carbon. The weak cap combined with offsetts, would result in a price on carbon far too low to produce the changes in energy use ncessary to avert climate catastrophe. Free allowances to utilities and energy intensive industries further mute the price signal needed to shift to a low-carbon economy.

4) Trading Combined with "subprime" offsetts will lead to speculative bubbles. ACESA's trading provisions would create a volitile $2 trillion carbon market with unregulated derivatives that could crash financial markets again. Linking trading systems internationally would lead to even larger opportunities for speculation, gaming and fraud.

5) Weak Renewable Energy Standard. ACESA's Renewable Energy Standard (RES) is watered down to just 15% by 2020, barely greater than "business‑as‑usual." Furthermore, ACESA defines "renewable energy" to include dirty sources such as waste incineration.

6) Handouts for the coal and oil Industries. Through free allowances and a hidden utility tax, the coal industry would receive approximately $150 billion over the bill's lifetime for "deployment" of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology that presently doesn't exist and may never materialize. If feasible, CCS would require far more mining, transportation and burning of coal to produce electricity. ACESA would also give approximately $24 billion to oil refiners under the pretext that the world's most profitable industry needs still more financial assistance.

7) Pre‑emption of EPA Authority. ACESA would pre‑empt EPA's authority to regulate sources of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, while also overriding stronger laws at the state and regional levels. By disabling this regulatory backstop, ACESA ensures that its failure as climate policy will be catastrophic.

I commented at Island of Doubt:

#3 and #4 are contradictory - if the price is low, how can it be a $2 trillion market?

#6: "If feasible, CCS would require far more mining, transportation and burning of coal to produce electricity." What's this supposed to mean? CCS is a big question mark, but if it works it could be the sweet spot in minimally changing our economic systems while evading climate impacts.

#2 and #7: My understanding is the EPA retains control over non-farm offsets and under the bill can still impose new climate change regs over everything except coal plants. If I'm right (and I'm relying on secondary sources here) then either these guys don't know what they're talking about or are deliberately overstating their case.

The problem is finding out what the current language says. The Thomas guide has it when it came out of committee, but the latest deals aren't included. This Grist article says "The biggest flaws environmental organizations have identified in Waxman-Markey include the removal of the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act," but elsewhere I've seen the removal is only over coal plants. Actual information would be useful.

I wonder if the congress reps tomorrow will know what they're voting on. (And yes, I think they do need to pass it, even with significant holes.)

UPDATE 2: found this (and if that link stops working, this one might work):



``As of the date of the enactment of the Safe Climate Act, no greenhouse gas may be added to the list under section 108(a) on the basis of its effect on global climate change.


``Section 115 shall not apply to an air pollutant with respect to that pollutant's contribution to global warming.


``No greenhouse gas may be added to the list of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 unless such greenhouse gas meets the listing criteria of section 112(b) independent of its effects on global climate change.


``The provisions of part C of title I shall not apply to a major emitting facility that is initially permitted or modified after January 1, 2009, on the basis of its emissions of any greenhouse gas.


``Notwithstanding any provision of title III or V, no stationary source shall be required to apply for, or operate pursuant to, a permit under title V, solely because the source emits any greenhouse gases that are regulated solely because of their effect on global climate change.''."

So my Clean Air Act knowledge is rusty, but criteria pollutants have to have plans for their reductions, so that's off the table. New coal plants could be regulated (I think) but old coal plants can't.

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