- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman announced details of a compromise climate-change bill that he says he has the votes to pass through his committee by Memorial Day.

The California Democrat told reporters late Tuesday that as part of a new, so-called “cap-and-trade” system, he plans to give away 35 percent of carbon-dioxide-emissions permits to electrical utilities and an unspecified number to manufacturers, automakers, refineries and other recipients.

President Obama has recommended a cap-and-trade regimen in which no permits would be given for free.

Mr. Waxman also said the bill would moderate previously announced carbon-dioxide-emissions goals. He said he would seek C02 emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. That goal is down from the 20 percent reduction he had proposed in an earlier draft of the bill.

The new bill also would require states to meet a renewable-energy mandate of 20 percent by 2025, with a quarter of that coming from energy-efficiency gains. A governor would be able to declare that his state was due to fall short of that goal and could win an additional three percentage point allowance for efficiency gains, if he were to choose to do so.

A renewable-energy mandate is a requirement for utilities to provide a minimum amount of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Mr. Waxman said he did not change the long-term carbon-dioxide-reduction targets he had placed in his earlier bill. They remain at 42 percent in 2030 and 83 percent in 2050.

Mr. Waxman said he will release the full text of his new bill Thursday and will hold the first drafting session Monday. He plans to complete work by the end of next week.

“I believe we have the votes for passage of this bill,” he said, following a closed-door meeting with committee Democrats Tuesday evening.

The bill would give free allowances to the auto industry to help pay for energy-efficient technology, a provision sought by Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, whom Mr. Waxman replaced as committtee chairman in January. Mr. Waxman declined to specify the total number of free allowances beyond those given to electric utilities.

“This bill will be backed by a number of industry groups, as well as environmental groups,” Mr. Waxman said.