This was a vote on passage of H.R. 2454, an energy bill titled the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The bill included, among other things, new renewable requirements for utilities, incentives for the development of carbon capture technologies, energy efficiency incentives for homes and buildings, grants for green jobs, and a “cap-and-trade” plan designed to reduce ??greenhouse gas emissions: Under cap-and-trade, an enforceable and declining limit, or cap, is established on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that a company is allowed to emit, until the overall reduction goal is met. Companies emitting higher pollution levels than the law would allow are permitted to buy, or trade, pollution “credits” from entities that emit much lower pollution levels.
Rep. Waxman (D-CA), a sponsor of H.R. 2454, claimed it “will break our dependence on foreign oil, make our Nation the world leader in clean-energy jobs and technology, and cut global warming pollution.” Waxman also said that, as a result of the bill, “we will create millions of clean-energy jobs for America and restore our technological leadership in clean energy. We are also protecting consumers.” Waxman went on to argue “(T)he evidence on global warming, on the consequences of carbon emission is overwhelming, and we have based our bill on the science. . . And there is an economic imperative to act. This legislation is an enormous jobs bill for America. It will promote investment and growth for decades ahead, creating jobs for the new-energy economy of the 21st century. Referring to the cost of the bill, he said: “(C)ontrary to what we will hear from our friends on the other side of the aisle, the Congressional Budget Office found that this legislation will cost households an average of only $175 in 2020, less than 50 cents a day. EPA's analysis put the cost at 22 to 30 cents a day, less than the cost of a single postage stamp, while lowering utility bills by 7 percent.”
Waxman said that supporters of the measure had “forged compromises” that satisfied the interests of the auto, steel and coal industries, farmers, and low-income families. He claimed that the bill was supported by electric utilities, manufacturers, and the leading “environmental organizations, labor unions, and faith-based groups.” He added that: (P)eople in industry have told us that as soon as this legislation becomes law, we will find billions of dollars invested in infrastructure over the next 5 years . . . .”
Republicans opposed the bill on various grounds. A statement issued by House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) characterized the cap and trade program as “a new national energy tax which will significantly increase the cost of energy and impose an unprecedented bureaucratic stranglehold on the economy, resulting in millions of lost jobs and higher costs for millions of American families for virtually every good and service they need.”
Rep. Inglis (R-SC) called the component of the new program that permitted the sale of pollution credits “another Wall Street trading scheme.” Rep Schock (R-IL) said he believed the country can achieve its energy pollution goals “without putting the conventional methods of energy out of business.” Rep. Lucas (R-OK), the Ranking Republican on the Agricultural Committee, argued it “is the single largest economic threat to our farmers and ranchers in decades. We have more than 115 agricultural and food groups who publicly oppose this bill . . . (because) costs will escalate as a direct result of the energy tax (from the cap and trade program).” Lucas also claimed that H.R. 2454 “does not exempt agriculture from performance standards in the bill, which means the EPA could tell our producers how to manage their farms.”
Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) said the bill “stifles the ability of the people of this country to have the kind of competitiveness they need in the world to be able to get inexpensive sources of energy.” Rep. Hastings (R-WA) argued: “(B)y imposing this national energy tax (in the cap and trade program) and creating a massive new bureaucracy to regulate the entire economy, this bill will drive up the cost of doing business in America . . . .” Rep. Rogers (R-MI) cited statements by President Obama and renowned investor Warren Buffett that, as a result of the bill, “‘(E)lectricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.’ Under this bill, we create the single largest energy tax in United States history. Warren Buffett called it ‘a huge tax, and there's no sense calling it anything else. Very poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity.’'' Rogers also argued that the bill essentially is claiming that “the government can control the weather by raising your taxes, taking your job and dictating your life.” His fellow Michigan Republican, Rep. McCotter, said: “(T)his is the hubris of Big Government, the delusion that our families' economic futures rest in the manicured hands of Congress rather than the hardworking hands of the American people.”
The vote was 219-212. Two hundred and eleven Democrats and eight Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred sixty-eight Republicans and forty-four Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House passed and sent to the Senate H.R. 2454, a major energy bill and the first one to mandate and provide a program to achieve significant reductions in global warming.