VIEWS: American Clean Energy and Security Act Takes On the Senate

Dispatch from SSC Intern Jason Wirick

The American Clean Energy and Security Act passed the House by a slim vote of 219 to 212. The House recognized climate change for the first time by passing the bill that will create a cap and trade system for carbon emissions on US soil. The next major battle for the bill will take place in the Senate during the July and August hearings. President Obama urged Senators to support the bill.

"Now my call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past. Don't believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It's just not true."

Will the Senate pass the bill? When analyzing and trying to predict the voting of the new bill in the Senate, we must look back at how the House votes on bills. The House of Representatives has districts in each state and each district gets a vote. The number of votes depends on the population of each state, similar to the Electoral College in presidential elections. California and New York had over nineteen percent of the yays during the House voting on the American Clean Energy and Security Act. In the Senate each state has only two votes. California and New York have only four votes combined which is four percent of the total voting in the Senate. Twenty two states voted yay and twenty eight states voted nay if you look at the majority of the state’s representative’s votes on the new climate bill. With each state getting two votes in the Senate this could be a long shot to get the bill passed.

The razor-thin vote in the House spells doom in the Senate.

Said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.

Opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act are stating that this bill will actually cost Americans more money for energy and will drive companies to other countries where there are fewer restrictions on emissions. Many Senators are representing industrial and agricultural states with high unemployment rates. These Senators are under the most pressure to vote down the bill. In the Republicans' weekly radio and Internet address, House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio said:

By imposing a tax on every American who drives a car or flips on a light switch, this plan will drive up the prices for food, gasoline and electricity.

If the bill passes through the Senate Americans will be held accountable for the amount of energy they use and how much gasoline they burn. This would set America down a path where citizens are rewarded for conserving energy and using less. Is this not what we are trying to pursue when fighting climate change and creating a culture shift in this country? In the next couple of months the Senate will begin to heat up and the debate about the American Clean Energy and Security Act will make for an arduous journey to the White House. Let’s just hope we have something positive to show the rest of the world when President Obama touches down in Copenhagen for the UN’s Climate Change Conference in December.

Learn more about the bill’s senate challenge through Lubbock Online and Real Clear Politics.