The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES Act) was passed by the US House of Representatives, 219 to 212, yesterday.
A simple majority of 218 votes was needed to pass the bill.
Only eight Republicans supported the bill, while forty-four Democrats did not.
Cap and Trade, as the bill is also known, places limits on emissions and pollution, and fines companies who exceed such limits. Companies over the limit can offset their overage by purchasing carbon credits from companies operating below the limit, or via carbon sequestration strategies that, in one example, may pay farmers who farm sustainably.
The bill is reported to be over 1,500 pages long, with the addition of 300 new pages coming early on the morning of the vote.
Some reports note that Rhode Island Representative, Patrick Kennedy, a democrat, was called out of rehab to vote on the legislation.
Speaking from the White House President Obama praised the passage of the bill, stating it will “finally create a set of incentives that will spark a clean energy transformation in our economy. It will spur the development of low-carbon sources of energy, everything from wind, solar and geothermal power to safer nuclear energy and cleaner coal.”
The bill has come under criticism for potentially increasing energy costs. It has been described by opponents as a “new energy tax.” However President Obama lauded the bill, noting that the cost of pollution will be passed onto the polluters. Whether these costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers remains unclear.
But what is clear is ACES will engender a new energy economy, one that will see the, “Creation of millions of new jobs. Make no mistake, this is a jobs bill,” Obama said, citing an example of a new concentrated solar plant in California. The plant will employ 3,000 people during construction, and retain 1,000 for operations.
“This legislation will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy,” the President said. “Creating new businesses, new industries, and American jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced.” It will offer rural communities and farmers new revenue streams from emissions reduction strategies and renewable energy technologies.
He dismissed the concerns of increased costs of energy, saying that, “in about a decade, the price to the average American [of energy] will be just about a postage stamp a day."
But controversy persists. Concerns from the right question how much energy costs will increase during the transition to operable clean energy solutions, to meet the bill. They fear consumers will be hit by large price increases, upfront.
The bill, also known as the Waxmam Markey bill, must still pass the senate. Despite the close call in the house, with a democratic majority presiding in the senate, its passage is expected.