Depending how convinced you are by John Kerry's arguments, the American Power Act introduced yesterday represents the best-possible compromise given the current realities in Washington. But many environmentalists think it's too weak and has too many giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.
Here's a bill that—while it can't impose any of the much-needed regulations we'd like to see in climate legislation—has the potential to slash emissions in a significant way: The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act will provide rebates for homeowners who get energy-efficiency upgrades. It's no cap on industry or power plant emissions, but the bill, which passed the House last Thursday and is expected to make it through a Senate vote smoothly, can at least help to lift the heaviest burden blocking more widespread implementation of efficiency measures that are available: the high up-front costs.
Grist breaks down the basics of how the bill would work:
There's the Silver Star track, which is a conventional rebate program that offers homeowners up to 50 percent back on the cost of efficiency purchases like windows or boilers (up to $1,500 per purchase, capped at $3,000). Then there's the Gold Star track, which offers up to $3,000 to homeowners who conduct whole-house energy audits and implement a package of measures that reduce their total energy use by at least 20 percent; for each additional 5 percent there's another $1,000, capped at $8,000.
Then there's the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, meant to support stabilization and lasting peace in northern Uganda and other areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army. It's not exactly related directly to emissions reductions, but given the humanitarian, health, environmental, and wildlife and habitat costs of this ongoing war, surely bringing it to an end can be considered a universally acceptable goal. The bill, which already had the Senate's vote, passed in the House yesterday, and now awaits the President's signature before becoming law. Not everyone agrees the bill takes the right approach, of course, but—maybe a start is better than none. Hopefully.
More on the Climate Bill:
John Kerry & Greenpeace Both Right On The Climate Bill? Yes, Unfortunately
How Much Compromise Would Make the Climate Bill Worthless?
Know the 7 Key Senators in the Climate Bill Battle