Wednesday, April 22, 2009

US Climate Change and Energy Bill

The week of 20-24 April marks a big week in the US Congress, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will have four hearings discussing the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, entitled “The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.” Among the departments testifying was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), as well as the Department of Energy (DOE). Every department has economic recovery on the top of their agendas.

According to Jackson from the EPA, the funding provided by the stimulus bill for the ARRA has allowed the EPA to bring numerous new clean jobs into the US economy, working to overhaul clean-water systems, restoring and redeveloping polluted properties, and installing clean-air equipment on diesel engines. But this stimulus funding will run out, and the Administration believes there needs to be long-term structural change in advanced clean energy industries that will help the US recover in the long-term. They claim these jobs created through clean energy and energy efficiency standards cannot be shipped overseas, avoiding job leakage.

Steven Chu from the DOE said the US has not had a clear energy strategy for decades and although much has been done already, the US needs to set clear long-term emissions reductions goals that “empower the private sector to find the most innovative ways to reduce carbon pollution.” The US needs to be the leader in clean technology. US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood calls for major investments in building high speed rail lines and other options to reduce the amount of carbon-intensive transportation. This bill needs to combine clean job creation, technology innovation and investments that facilitate long-term low-carbon infrastructure. In doing so, the US can become an international leader in climate change legislation as well as stimulate economic recovery.

According to the Obama administration officials, such a bill would help promote economic recovery and reduce consumption of foreign oil, hopefully enough progress will be made by the end of this week in order to put these words into action.

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