On Friday, June 26, the House of Representatives passed landmark legislation to begin to address climate change emissions in the US. The bill is comprehensive and covers a new Cap and Trade policy, job creation, energy efficiency standards and investments in renewable energy. The New York Times published an article by the Associated Press which outlines basic questions and answers about the bill.
Now the bill will pass on to the Senate, amidst hurried efforts by many groups to modify it before it reaches the Senate floor. Reactions to the House bill are far-ranging. Environmental economists weighed in in an op-ed piece from the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, which points out the value of the bill to correct for a market failure by charging companies for polluting, reflecting the true costs to society.
On the other hand, the US Chamber of Commerce weighed in claiming that the costs of the complicated regulatory burden imposed by the bill would hurt citizens and business owners without creating enough jobs to compensate.
The Union of Concerned Scientists was largely satisfied with the bill, as it matched their recommendations closely, such as providing for significant emissions reductions, and flexibility to respond to emerging scientific findings.
Grist reported that some environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are hoping that the Senate bill can be more robust in preventing climate change emissions. The New York Times columnist Revkin questions the bill’s ability to provide leadership to developing nations, where 97% of the growth in climate emissions is projected to take place.
Details about how the bill might affect small business are still emerging. It may make more fiscal sense to pay to upgrade to a renewable energy economy now, rather than waiting for consequences to emerge that make the switch more expensive. For more information on climate change causes and consequences, see the EPA’s website, or wecansolveit.org.