What is American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

The American Clean Energy and Security Act was piece of legislation created in an attempt to establish an economy-wide climate and energy policy to help address the issue of climate change. The U.S House of Representatives passed the act but the Senate never brought the bill to the floor.

BREAKING DOWN American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is also known as the Waxman-Markey bill after committee chairman Henry Waxman and Rep. Edward Markey. The legislation would have established a greenhouse gas cap and trade system along with various other measures to help the U.S move toward a clean energy economy. After six months of work on the bill, the House of Representatives brought it to the floor where it passed on June 26, 2009, by a vote of 219 to 212. However, by the time it reached the Senate, other issues, including health care reform, complicated the legislative environment, making it harder to bring the energy bill to the floor.

Despite the Senate’s failure to vote on the act, the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives marked the nation’s first legislative attempt at the federal level to address greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to curb climate change.

Emissions targets

The cap and trade system envisioned in the act set emissions targets that paralleled a previous proposal from President Barack Obama to cut greenhouse gases by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020. The bill included a series of policies aimed at promoting renewable energy sources and increased energy efficiency, including changes to building codes and improved standards for appliances and light fixtures.

Supporters and detractors

As one might expect, a number of major environmental organizations including the Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club voiced strong support of the bill’s efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment. Corporate support also came from seemingly less-likely vectors, including letters of support from Pacific Gas and Electric, Dow Chemical and General Electric. Although two Democrats wrote the act, it also received support from the group Republicans for Environmental Protection, which praised the bill’s passage.

Some environmental organizations such as Greenpeace opposed the bill on the grounds that the act offered inadequate protections for the climate or natural resources. According to this view, the support for the bill coming from major energy companies like Shell Oil and Duke Energy implied weaknesses in the proposal. Others who opposed the bill argued that the costs would outweigh the benefits.