Washington, DC (June 26, 2009)- The U.S. House of Representatives, splitting largely along party lines, has approved the most ambitious energy and global warming legislation ever debated in Congress. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2454, contains two key urban forestry provisions, including Rep. Doris Matsui’s Energy Conservation through Trees Act and Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s GREEN Act. The Alliance for Community Trees has been a strong advocate for both, and encourages all ACT members to ask their elected leaders to support these provisions.
March 31, 2009- Introduced and referred to House Energy Committee
May 15, 2009- Re-introduced and referred to House Energy Committee
May 21, 2009- Bill passed out of committee by a vote of 33 to 25
June 26, 2009- Passed House by a vote of 219 to 212
Energy Conservation through Trees
The proposed federal program would encourage utility companies to partner with local nonprofit tree planting organizations to plant trees to reduce residential energy demand. The purpose of the legislation is to help homeowners and small business owners lower their electric bills (and help utilities lower their peak load demand) by reducing energy demand caused by the need to run air conditioners and heaters at a high level. Shade trees not only help mitigate the urban heat island effect, but also help to shield homes from sun in the summer and cold winds in the winter.
G.R.E.E.N. Act for Affordable Mortgages
The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act of 2008 (GREEN Act) provides incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers, who build, buy or remodel their homes and businesses to improve their energy efficiency and use of alternative energy. This timely legislation reflects foresight and the considered input of a broad coalition of housing advocates, home builders, financial institutions, government leaders, developers, and the environmental community.
This is an important milestone that deserves thanks and appreciation to Congresswoman Matsui and Congressman Perlmutter for their leadership. Urban forestry advocates nationwide are united in support of these provision. Next, the Senate needs to pass climate legislation. In the Senate, leaders say they lack the votes to pass the bill as it is now written. The legislation has a long road ahead with opportunity for weigh-in by nearly every member of Congress, meaning that advocates should continue to educate members of Congress about the value of trees as they pertain to energy efficiency and affordable housing as part of any climate legislation that moves forward.
The objections of the Republican opponents were summed up in the words of Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, who said the bill would mean sharp increases in energy costs and the loss of millions of jobs. “This is the biggest energy tax in the history of the United States,” Mr. Rogers said.
The measure has critics and supporters on the left and right. Many large manufacturers and the majority of the big utilities support it, for now, as the least-bad option for what is considered the inevitable imposition of controls on heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide.
CBO Cost Estimate for H.R. 2454
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that over the period of 2010 to 2019, the bill would increase federal revenues by $846 billion and increase direct spending by $821 billion. That leaves a net gain of about $24 billion, according to CBO. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a co-sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), was enthusiastic about the bill’s potential to reduce the national deficit. “The Waxman-Markey bill will get our planet out of the red, while helping to put our budget back in black,” Markey said in a statement.
The major environmental advocacy groups are, for the most part, enthusiastic backers. “Clearly, it’s an unprecedented step forward in the critical effort to create millions of clean-energy jobs, reduce our dependence on oil and protect our planet from global warming pollution,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. But some groups, like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Public Citizen, expressed concern that the bill as drafted gave away too much to polluting industries and depended excessively on hypothetical reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases from developing countries.
This is good for jobs, good for investment, and good for the environment,” said Congressman Henry Waxman of California, who chairs the committee. “We are establishing strong protections to ensure America’s industrial capacity can thrive without being disadvantaged by overseas competition.”
“We’ve worked hard to develop legislation that will dramatically reduce CO2 emissions while preserving energy-intensive U.S. manufacturing jobs and protecting consumers from substantially higher electric bills – and I believe that the agreement we’ve reached will do just that,” said co-author of the agreement Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania.
Draft Letter of Support to Congress
Section 205- Tree Planting Programs
May 20, 2009 Markup
H.R. 2454- American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009
H.R. 2454 Draft
CBO Cost Estimate for H.R. 2454
Energy Conservation through Trees Act
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