The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elliott Negin,Media Director,

Waxman-Markey Draft Sets Stage for Climate Legislation


A "discussion draft"
(pdf) for climate and energy legislation released today by Reps. Henry
Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sets the stage for the
federal government to rapidly adopt a comprehensive approach to energy
and climate policy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists
(UCS). House members will use the discussion draft as a starting point
for crafting legislation.

Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and
Markey, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Energy and the Environment, have pledged to move a bill out of the
Energy and Commerce committee by Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. The
discussion draft release comes on the heels of President Obama reaffirming his pledge to move rapidly on comprehensive climate and energy legislation during a March 24 press conference.

Economists who have studied the issue of addressing global warming largely agree that reducing emissions is much less costly than failing to reduce emissions and adapting to resulting climate change.

"Increasing our reliance on clean energy sources would help pull our
economy out of the ditch and prevent the worst consequences of global
warming," said economist Michael Hanemann, a Chancellor's Professor in
the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at the
University of California Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy.
"The energy efficiency provisions in the draft are a key way to reduce
electricity bills for consumers as we transition to a clean energy
economy. Doing nothing is the most expensive thing we can do. Opponents
of energy and climate legislation want to keep us addicted to
increasingly expensive fossil fuels and saddle us, our children and our
grandchildren with the massive costs of unchecked climate change."

The timing of the discussion draft release sent a clear message to
delegates attending a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change meeting in Bonn, Germany this week, said UCS's strategy and
policy director, Alden Meyer. The delegates, who are working on a
successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, are expected to finalize a
new treaty in December.

"Congress is helping to position the United States as an effective
leader in the international climate treaty negotiations," said Meyer,
who is at the Bonn meeting. "As opposed to the experience in Kyoto in
1997, other countries now are seeing real support in the Congress for
binding limits on heat-trapping emissions. This improves the prospects
for a new global agreement at the Copenhagen summit this December. The
draft would also set aside funding to help developing countries protect
their forests. Such funding can deliver significant emissions
reductions and foster the kind of international cooperation we need to
adopt and implement an effective climate treaty."

Lance Pierce, director of UCS's Climate Program, said the discussion
draft highlights the full range of policies needed to address global
warming. "This is a truly comprehensive outline," Pierce said.
"Congress is looking at a market-based cap on emissions that works
alongside smart energy and transportation polices. This broad approach
is the best way to promote renewable energy sources, curb our oil
dependence, and avoid the most expensive consequences of climate


According to a UCS analysis
of a renewable electricity standard similar to the one included in the
discussion draft, requiring all utilities to obtain 25 percent of their
electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 would create 297,000
new domestic jobs and save consumers $64.3 billion in lower electricity
and natural gas bills. The analysis also found that this renewable
electricity standard would generate $13.5 billion in new income for
farmers, ranchers and rural landowners, and reduce global warming
pollution by 277 million metric tons a year by 2025, the equivalent of
the current annual output of 70 average-size coal-fired power plants.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates
(pdf) that a national energy efficiency standard, such as the one
included in the discussion draft, could save utility customers $168
billion through 2020 and create 220,000 jobs. In the year 2020, such a
standard could reduce heat-trapping emissions by 260 million metric

An Environmental Defense Fund synthesis
(pdf) of five university and governmental studies found that
comprehensive energy and climate policies would lead to only 0.5
percent less growth in the gross domestic product by 2030 and only 0.75
percent less growth in GDP by 2050. Meanwhile, a 2008 Natural Resources Defense Council study
(pdf) projected that, if current trends continue, the total cost of
climate change in the United States could be as high as 3.6 percent of
GDP by 2100.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.