After a fairly disconcerting telephone conference call organized by climate advocacy group 1Sky with both Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey on the details of the ACES bill (the American Clean Energy & Security Act) otherwise known as the Waxman-Markey bill, climate activists are calling for a strengthening of the bill.

It appears that the bill, H.R. 2454, which is currently in markup and is likely to be passed by the House before July 4, has been weakened and has some serious deficiencies which could spell trouble for a global climate agreement in Copenhagen later this year.

On the call, Waxman made it clear that this bill was not about restricting coal-burning power plants. He talked a lot about a gradual transition to using carbon capture technologies (which don't currently exist at scale). In my latest video blog I joke about this as the "Carbon Capture" bill.

The most troublesome points of the bill:

a)     It only calls for an 18 percent reduction (over 1990 levels) by 2020. The U.N. Conference in Bali stated that a 25 percent reduction was the minimum to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

b)    It gives out 50 percent of CO2 pollution permits for free instead of the 100 percent auction Obama wanted. This will result in economic savings for energy companies which is intended to be passed onto their customers, although there is no requirement for them to do so. 

c)     The EPA is removed from the picture and has no jurisdiction when it comes to enforcing the Waxman-Markey bill. When asked about this, Waxman said that the “spectre of the EPA” hadn’t helped before so it wouldn’t help now. But wait ... wasn’t that the EPA led by Bush-appointed Stephen Johnson, the same guy who made it illegal for states to have their own environmental laws?

For a detailed breakdown of the bill and 1Sky's recommendations you can check out their excellent ACES chart (PDF).

1Sky is calling on U.S. citizens to look up their representative and make a phone call THIS WEEK in support of a letter being circulated by Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Keith Ellison to strengthen the bill. They provided the following script:

Hi, this is _______ and I'm a constituent. How are you?  (Ask to speak to the legislative aide who handles energy/environment.  Leave a voicemail if you get an answering machine after you are transferred.)

I'm calling to urge your boss to sign a letter being circulated by Representatives Pingree and Ellison on the energy bill.  We think now is the opportunity to pass legislation to unleash the power of clean energy to repower America and stop the worst effects of global warming.  While the American Clean Energy & Security Act (H.R. 2454), the major energy bill slated to be on the floor next week, establishes a framework for transitioning to clean energy and addressing global warming, it needs to be strengthened to deliver more for the environment and economy. 

The Pingree-Ellison letter encourages Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to strengthen the bill in three key ways: (1) ensuring that we increase our use of wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources over business as usual; (2) requiring existing coal plants to meet performance standards for global warming pollution; and (3) creating more clean energy jobs for America by investing in clean energy and workforce development.

Will your boss sign the letter?  

The deadline for signing is noon on Friday.  When will you have a chance to talk to your boss about it?  Great, I'll call back ____ to follow up. 
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Dissecting the Waxman-Markey climate bill
Climate activists call for action to strengthen the most important piece of environmental legislation in history.