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Key House Energy and Commerce Committee Passes Climate Change Bill
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program Not Included

By Judy Sheahan
May 25, 2009


After a four day marathon mark-up session, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a sweeping energy and climate change bill (HR 2454) on May 21 by a vote of 33-25. The bill entitled, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 promotes renewable energy, establishes energy efficiency requirements for all sectors including buildings, appliances, and transportation, encourages smart grid technology, and creates green jobs. Also included is the establishment of a cap and trade program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2020, by 42 percent in 2030, and by 83 percent in 2050.

What is not included in the bill is a mechanism to fund the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) which was created to assist city, county, and state governments in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy conservation and energy efficiency. State governments, however, were provided a portion of the revenues collected from the auction of emission allowances to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as adapt to impact that global warming has on the changing environment.

Henry Waxman (CA), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward Markey (MA), Subcommittee Chair, were the primary authors of the bill and spent weeks negotiating with Democratic members of the Committee to ensure the passage of the bill out of Committee. As a result, many concessions were made including giving the major emitters of greenhouse gas emissions (utilities, industry, etc) free allowances for the first few years of enactment of the legislation as opposed to auctioning all of these allowances which was expected to generate billions of dollars of revenue.

In a statement issued by The U.S. Conference of Mayors, CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran said, “We commend members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for moving a step closer towards establishing a first-ever cap and trade system in the United States – a move that will make industries, companies, and other groups reduce their carbon emissions and promote pollution reduction. However, we’re concerned that the Committee agreed on a bill that provides billions of dollars for state governments but excludes direct funding for cities, which is where the majority of climate protection actions have been taking place as demonstrated by the more than 940 Mayors who have signed The U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.”

Usually a manager’s amendment is substituted before the full House votes on the bill which is expected in June or July. In addition, other committees including the House Ways and Means Committee have indicated that they may review the bill and make some potential changes. Mayors are encouraged to call their Representatives and ask that funding be included for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant in the final climate change bill.

The Senate is expected to take up their climate change legislation after the House passes their version. Last year, Senate Energy and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (CA) allocated a percentage of the selling of the emission auctions to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant in the their version of climate change bill which passed the Senate last summer.