29 June 2009

They Voted For You: Cap and Trade

West Virginia's three U.S. House members all opposed the American Clean Energy and Security Act when it narrowly passed to the Senate late Friday.

U.S. Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-1st; Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd; and Nick Rahall, D-3rd, each voted against the bill in the 219-212 roll call.

"The complex bill would require the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by midcentury," The Associated Press reports. "Opponents complain about the costs and say some industries will simply move their operations and jobs out of the U.S. to countries that don't control greenhouse-gas emissions."

The AP article reflects other arguments for and against the bill, while another reports that additions to the bill "would actually result in the nation burning more coal a decade from now than it does today."

With these provisions, the House bill "gives utilities a financial incentive to keep burning coal and buy 'offsets' to make up for the resulting emissions," that article said, and "also restricts a legal tool that environmentalists have relied on to block the construction of dozens of coal-fired power plants."

That article notes further that the bill as amended "spends billions of dollars on research into so-called 'clean coal' technology, which seeks to scrub the carbon emissions from coal before they make their way into the atmosphere, then store those emissions underground."

Analyzing Friday's vote, The National Journal reports that "thirty of the 121 Democrats from states that generate at least 40 percent of their power from coal voted against the bill; just 14 of the 134 Democrats from states that are less reliant on coal joined them in opposition. That means about one-in-four of the coal state Democrats voted no, compared to only a little over one-in-10 of everyone else."

That report also observed that "of the 49 House Democrats who represent districts that McCain carried last year, fully 29 voted against the measure... Similarly, seven of the eight Republicans who supported the measure represent districts that backed Obama last November."

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