While much of the nation's attention is now focused on the healthcare debate, also pending before the U.S. Senate is legislation that will have at least as great an impact on the day-to-day lives of Americans in general and West Virginians in particular. On June 26, the House approved the "American Clean Energy and Security Act," also known as the "Waxman-Markey bill." That bill has as its goal the "capping" and reduction of the nation's "carbon footprint" from the emission of so-called greenhouse gases and, with that, a reduction in its supposed impact on the climate.
These reductions are to be achieved through government issued permits that authorize the holder to discharge specified amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. As permit holders reduce their emissions, they can sell or trade those permits to others who have not yet achieved required reduction levels. As permits expire and more stringent mandates come into play, the ultimate goal is a reduction of 17% in emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. While this level of reduction seems modest, the cost of achieving it will be significant.
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