On June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Better known as the cap and trade act, it is setup to limit this country’s affects on global warming by, you guessed it, capping and trading the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere.
Basically, a company will have a certain amount of emissions that they can legally release with no penalty. After reaching that limit, the company is then in the penalty and must either gain more permits through other companies who have extra or offset their emissions through things like planting trees.
While the 1500+-page (including a 300-page amendment added the night before!?!) has much more to it than can be covered in this piece, one controversial point is the idea that an increase in energy costs will force companies to develop or use alternative forms of energy, including wind and solar power. Proponents of the bill believe this will create new ‘green’ jobs for the country.
Opponents of the bill claim that companies will simply move to other countries where the cap and trade bill will no longer affect them, costing the US millions of jobs. Other opponents, mainly Republicans, also claim an increase in energy costs would directly hurt consumers, but the EPA and nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office believe the cost would be less than $200 to each household per year.
During a recession it’s hard to convince Americans how necessary this relatively small amount of extra cash, but they must understand that despite everyone’s current struggles the world will not be alright if those of us who can sacrifice refuse to do so. If you can afford it, don’t support the overseas companies who ignore their environmental effects.
And some are still arguing on whether global warming actually exists. Based on almost all scientific evidence this argument is ridiculous, but it must be addressed.
While we can debate all day on whether global warming is fact or fiction, the important point is that this bill was not created to deal only with this issue. It’s also about the massive amount of natural resources in use. At some point these resources will not be as readily available as they are now. It’s better to focus on other forms of energy now than to wait until there is no other choice.
Republicans are not the only ones speaking out against the bill. Former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich believes the bill needs to be tougher on coal-burning companies. He also doesn’t think the goal to reduce emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 goes far enough.
“Apparently, the planet is not melting; it is just getting better for polluters,” he said in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives.
President Barack Obama has acknowledged to the New York Times that many environmental groups would not be happy with the so-called modest bill, but he told them it is an “extraordinary first step.”
Unfortunately, the bill still must get through the Senate where it could be hacked until barely recognizable, probably to appease conservatives, not left-wingers like Kucinich.