More Struggles Ahead for ACES

The American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as ACES, Waxman-Markey, or most simply, the climate bill, was welcomed into the political scene months ago with much excitement and publicity. But the momentum ACES gained last spring is fizzling fast.

Politico.com reports today that the climate bill, which the House passed in a watered-down version in June, is competing for Senators' time and attention. The debate raging in the Senate now centers around health care, and ACES supporters fear Democrats crucial to its passage simply don't have time to fully review and advocate for it. Supporters are anxious to pass at least some sort of climate legislation before December, in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Even in diluted form, the bill's passage could send a symbolic message to the world that the United States is turning over a new leaf in regard to climate change. The hope is that coal-heavy countries like China and India will follow our example and cut back their emissions.

Of course, the United States is still quite coal-heavy itself. The Energy Information Administration (EIA)'s International Energy Outlook for 2009 projects the United States will be responsible for 14 percent of the world's coal-related emissions by 2030, compared to India's eight percent. (The EIA projects China's 2030 coal-related impact to be the worst of the three major coal polluters: 52 percent of the world's coal emissions by 2030!)

And as if climate bill supporters didn't have enough obstacles, 12 letters sent to congressional offices before the ACES vote were recently outed as forgeries, masquerading as entreaties from minority grassroots organizations that opposed the bill. The Washington lobbying firm Bonner&Associates, where the letters originated, claim a temporary employee acted alone and was terminated upon discovery.

All three of the representatives who received forged letters are Democrats, and two of them ultimately voted against ACES. It is difficult to know if the letters influenced their votes, but in the midst of heated debate around climate and energy legislation, it's safe to assume every little bit counts.