The US House approves the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) legislation.

Some – most notably Al Gore - are hailing the decision as the most important legislation Congress will ever pass. It sees the US pledging to cut emissions by 17% (below 2005 levels) by 2020, and 83% by 2050.

Gore, from his Twitter page, said "make no mistake, this [Waxman Markey Bill] is the most important environmental vote of this generation. If passed this legislation will put us on the road to actually solving the climate crisis, in addition to building a green economy".

Among the measure included, are:

  • Emissions from a large sector of the US economy, including power plants, factories and car exhausts must reduce to 17% below their 2005 levels by 2020, and 83% below those levels by 2050;
  • a Cap and Trade or "polluter pays" system, similar to the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETC) - 85% of permits will be given away though, while environmentalists had wanted the Government to auction all of them;
  • Electricity producers would be required to get at least 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, with as much as 5% more energy saved from new efficiency measures. The two figures must add up to 20%;
  • A new Clean Energy Deployment Administration funded with US$7.5 billion in "green bonds" would provide government money to private companies investing in environmentally friendly technologies.

There has been mixed reaction to the Bill's passage. Some advocates such as Al Gore, and Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) were positive (at least in public).

However, organisations like Greenpeace were more muted.




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