It’s time to end the uncertainty about carbon costs.
This summer marked a pivotal moment for the energy industry. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), a.k.a., the Waxman-Markey bill, which among other things would require the U.S. economy to cut its greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 83 percent by 2050.
Of course, Waxman-Markey hasn’t yet become law; at this writing the Senate just had put the bill on its calendar for consideration later in the session. However, the political stars seem to be aligning in a way that might allow enactment. As one Washington insider put it, “It’s now or never.”
Why? Because now, with Al Franken (D-Minn.) having been seated in July, Democrats in the Senate are positioned to break a Republican filibuster and force a floor vote. This situation creates a narrow window of opportunity for climate legislation; next year many members of Congress will be too focused on the 2010 mid-term elections to spend political capital on such a massive and contentious issue.
Additionally, if the United States is going to enact GHG regulation, it should do it this year, so the U.S. negotiation team will be in a position to lead the debate at the U.N.’s Copenhagen climate conference in December.
Those reasons aside, however, the Waxman-Markey bill itself represents a political compromise that Congress actually might be able to approve.