American Clean Energy and Security Act

Bill fights global warming and helps farmers and landowners

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), designed to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy, is expected to be brought to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, June 26, prior to Congress's Fourth of July recess. The bill includes a cap-and-trade system requiring companies to buy carbon emissions permits from the federal government, and it sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent in 2020, by 42 percent in 2030, and by 83 percent in 2050.

UPDATE:  On Friday afternoon, June 26, 2009, the U.S.  House of Representatives passed the Clean Energy bill as proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) with a vote of 219 for and 212 against.

U.S. Representative Collin Peterson U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (middle), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (middle),
chairman of the House Agriculture Committee

The bill has gained support from utilities, energy companies, labor unions, environmentalists, and farm groups. House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) led negotiations for a shift in agency oversight of rural carbon offset programs from the EPA to the USDA, which would pay farmers and  landowners for environmentally friendly projects.

"We have an agreement finally after all these days. We have something that I think works for agriculture." said Representative Peterson. "A lot of the work we did was getting this offset program so it would work. Energy and Commerce and EPA did not get what farmers do.... We really believe that the ag people are the ones that know the most about this and are the ones that should do this."

Peterson said farmers will be able to mitigate higher energy prices by selling pollution offsets earned by tilling and conservation practices that keep carbon dioxide stored in the soil. Another revision to the bill that Peterson negotiated would give rural electric cooperatives, and other small utilities that have under 4 million megawatts of capacity, a portion of the pollution allowances that businesses would use to meet the bill’s cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

An analysis by the Center for American Progress and University of Massachusetts projects that the bill, combined with the clean-energy investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, could generate $150 billion in annual public- and private-sector clean-energy investments. The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy report projects that those investments could create 1.7 million new jobs.

"We all know why this is so important," said President Barack Obama about the Clean Energy bill. "The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century's global economy. That's what this legislation seeks to achieve—it's a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation. And that's why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it." 

Read more about the Clean Energy bill with these resources from the Center for American Progress:

The American Clean Energy and Security Act Myths and Facts

The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy

Climate Progress blog discussion on the Clean Energy act

Eight Reasons for Farmers to Support Global Warming Actions