Climate Bills Introduced in the House

Carol AndressThis post is by Carol Andress, who manages outreach to the U.S. House of Representatives at Environmental Defense Fund.


Two new cap-and-trade bills were introduced in the House in June:

  • Investing in Climate Action & Protection Act (Markey, D-MA, H.R. 6186)
  • Climate MATTERS Act (Doggett/Blumenauer/Van Hollen, H.R. 6316)

They aren’t the first cap-and-trade bills to be introduced in this Congress, but they bring the discussion to a new level.

For one thing, they provide more detail than the two previous bills introduced in the House: Olver’s Climate Stewartship Act (H.R. 620), introduced in January 2007, and Waxman’s Safe Climate Act (H.R. 1590), introduced in March 2007.

The Doggett/Blumenauer/Van Hollen and Markey bills are similar in some ways — both use cap-and-trade to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. But under the Doggett bill, the U.S. Treasury department would be the main administrator of the program, auctioning allowances and distributing revenue. In contrast, the Markey bill would have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not the Treasury department, play the central role in implementing cap-and-trade.

The Climate MATTERS Act has been referred to the Ways & Means committee because of the prominent role of the Treasury department. For all the other bills, the primary referral is to the Energy and Commerce committee. That’s significant.

Committees pay attention to the bills that are under their jurisdiction, and have a major impact on the substance and progress of legislation. Up to now, climate legislation was expected to be solely under the purview of the Energy & Commerce committee and its 57 Members. That committee has held several hearings on climate topics and will continue to hold hearings through the summer.

Now the Ways & Means committee, which deals with issues of revenue and international trade, also will hold hearings on climate legislation. This additional venue raises the profile of climate legislation and provides an opportunity to educate the 41 members of the Ways & Means committee about key issues.

The Ways & Means committee is planning to hold a hearing in July, and possibly a second one in the fall. Some of the issues they want to explore are:

  • How to spur developing countries such as China and India to cap emissions.
  • How to use revenue from cap-and-trade to reduce the burden on low-income residents.

We are pleased that House members are introducing detailed cap-and-trade bills and holding hearings to discuss them. With elections in the fall, the 2008 legislative calendar is especially short, and we don’t expect the full House to vote on a climate bill this year. But this year is an important time to educate House members and vet proposals so that the 111th Congress can act quickly in 2009.

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One Comment

  1. blueblob
    Posted August 29, 2008 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Realize I am bit late on this one but am doing some research on the House and climate legislation and came across this post. Wondering if any analysis on the House has been done regarding a possible outcomes were a vote to be held tomorrow on, for example, Lieberman-Warner? I know it is a bit early to be counting votes but interested in your views.