Climate bill passes House

Washington, D.C., June 29, 2009 – Legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions and establish a nationwide renewable electricity standard passed the House of Representatives Friday, June 26.

The 1,200 page American Clean Energy and Security Act would put a price on emissions of heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, with a system based on the trading of emissions credits or allowances.

The bill, which passed the House with a vote of 219-212, would also establish a requirement that 15 percent of the nation’s electricity be produced by renewable sources by 2020.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill’s various provisions would pass a relatively modest cost to American consumers – roughly $175 per year to the average household. Congressional Republicans have said this figure is too conservative an estimate, adding the costs passed on to energy users could be much higher.

The bill’s proponents say the economic blow to the utility industry will also be manageable for many, and some may even save money. This is thanks to the free emissions credits that will initially be available at no cost to certain regulated utilities.

The legislation would also allow utilities to work toward meeting their goals through the purchase of offsets – such as protecting forests or investing in other carbon-neutral ventures – as well as increasing their energy efficiency.

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