Waxman-Markey: Too Close to Call
Thirty-three years ago, in 1976, I served as campaign manager for a young Mass. State Representative running as a dark-horse candidate for the U.S. Congress. Remarkably he won, and I served as his first Administrative Assistant. His name is Ed Markey.
This Friday, the U.S. House of Representative is scheduled to debate and vote on the Waxman-Markey bill, historic legislation to address climate change. The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) is critically important. For the first time in our history, we will place a value and impose a cost on carbon emissions that endanger our planet. For the first time we will set clear goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% by 2050. And the revenue generated from the “cap and trade” system will be used for energy efficiency and wildlife adaptation, to support research and development, for training for the jobs and technology that come with developing alternative and renewable energy sources, and to assist low-income consumers.
Ed Markey called the other day to share his sense of excitement and concern for the legislation. Passage is not assured. Provincial and special interests representing regions that are financially tied to fossil fuels or outdated industrial production will resist. Even agricultural interests are wavering as they demand that agricultural practices that sequester carbon be regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and not the U.S. EPA. According to Markey, even the most optimistic estimates suggest a very close vote.
H.R.2454 is not a perfect bill. Some in the business community are violently opposed to what they believe is simply a “tax.” Some in the environmental community would prefer fewer free allowances and greater costs imposed on emissions. And others would prefer greater investment in adaptation or efficiency or jobs. Democracy is a messy business, often requiring compromises that stretch our belief systems.
But all of us must recognize the herculean task of marshalling sufficient support and votes to pass this precedent-setting national legislation. We respect the compromise. We are hopeful Members of the U.S. Congress will put parochial interests aside and rise to meet this national and international challenge. Friday is only the beginning. Hopefully, debate leads to a successful House vote. Then on to an uncertain future in the US Senate and, if successful, a Conference Committee leading to final passage.
We commend Congressman Markey for his leadership and determination steering this critical legislation to the brink of passage. We urge you to contact your friends across the country and urge them to contact their Congressional House Member in support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
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