Turning the corner toward a green energy future?
Greg Hitt and Stephen Power, Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2009
Landmark legislation to curb US greenhouse gas emissions was approved by the House of Representatives by a 219 to 212 vote late Friday, June 26th.
The 1,200 page bill -- formally known as the "American Clean Energy and Security Act" -- would mandate that 15% of the nation's electricity come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020, potentially expanding the market and profit potential for companies in those sectors. Towards that goal, it seeks to boost nascent industries such as wind-generated electricity and solar power.
It isn't clear how much of the House bill will survive in the Senate, where moderate Democrats and Republicans could form a majority that backs less ambitious action. The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers lobbied against passage. Groups that represent airlines, oil producers, and mining companies expressed disappointment, saying the bill, if enacted, would lead to onerous new costs to consumers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the bill would have a modest impact on family budgets. The CBO projected an annual economy-wide cost in 2020 of $22 billion, or about $175 per household.
Concessions to ease the impact on businesses and their customers included giving the business community more than 60% of pollution permits in the early years of the program. Supporters say the bill will have a modest impact on electricity ratepayers, and in many cases will save them money. That is because the legislation directs state regulators to make sure electricity-producing utilities that receive free pollution permits pass along the savings. The measure could result in higher gasoline and diesel prices. But New Energy Finance, an energy consultant, said it expects gasoline prices to rise about 17 cents a gallon, a relatively small amount compared with recent fluctuations in pump prices.
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