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05/27/2009

Waxman-Markey Climate Bill Reported Out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Last week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee favorably reported out of committee a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan, the American Clean Energy & Security Act.  The final committee vote count was 33 (aye) - 25 (nay).  Nearly all of the Democrats on the committee voted aye with the exception of: Mike Ross (AR-4); Jim Matheson (UT-2); Charlie Melancon (LA-3); and John Barrow (GA-12).  All of the Republicans on the committee voted nay with the exception of Mary Bono Mack (CA-45).

Several other committees, notably Ways & Means and Natural Resources, may seek an opportunity to weigh in on the bill before it comes to the House floor later this summer.

Included in the final bill was a Natural Resources Adaptation title.  This title directs a progressively increasing amount of the total revenue, generated by a carbon cap-and-trade system, to states and federal land management agencies for mitigation and other activities associated with climate change impacts on natural resources.  Before any of the money can be spent, the title requires states and federal agencies to work together to develop strategy plans for dealing with climate change impacts.  While we were not able to get the full 5% of revenue we were asking for, the inclusions of this provision in the larger bill is a significant step forward.

Also included in the Waxman/Markey bill is a provision directing land management agencies to inventory, identify, and develop plans for protecting migratory wildlife corridors.  Again, while this provision does not go quite as far as we had hoped, the recognition of the importance of migratory corridors is a huge step forward in preserving the ability of wildlife to adapt and move in response to global warming.

The bill will now be reviewed by several other House committees, including the House Committee on Natural Resources.  Following committee consideration, the bill will move to the House floor sometime this summer.  Throughout this process we will work with our champs to fend off any further attempts to water down or remove the adaptation title and wildlife corridors provisions.

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