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This is part VII of an ongoing Breakthrough Institute series analyzing the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act. Links to the series can be found at the end of this post.

Advocates of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454, or "ACES") argue that the bill is far more than just a climate bill.  It's comprehensive energy policy, and taken as a whole, they argue, it should be considered transformational -- even if the cap and trade portion of the bill may have been significantly weakened.

The ACES bill does indeed include many provisions to set a new course for our nation's energy policy, including efficiency standards, new programs aimed at modernizing the nation's electricity infrastructure and paving the way for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and a national renewable electricity standard.  Many of these will move America in the right direction.

But the question remains: will ACES really be transformational?  And will it propel American quickly away from business as usual and towards the prosperous clean energy economy and dramatic emissions reductions we need?

Poll

The Waxman-Markey Climate and Energy Bill is...

4%2 votes
4%2 votes
17%8 votes
53%25 votes
21%10 votes

| 47 votes | Vote | Results

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Yesterday, Congress began the debate that will determine our nation's energy future. Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a mammoth 648-page bill designed to fundamentally change the way we make and use energy in this country.   The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" may look complicated, but it's really all about the cold hard cash.  Or should I say, the coal hard cash.

The bill will establish a limited supply of permits allowing the release of greenhouse gas emissions by major polluters as part of an emissions reduction plan known as cap-and-trade.  Those emissions permits are collectively worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars annually.  That's a lot of cash.  And yet the bill is remarkably silent about where all that money will go.

Silent that is, except for on one front: coal.

Poll

Are you willing to fight for clean energy investments?

60%12 votes
10%2 votes
10%2 votes
10%2 votes
10%2 votes

| 20 votes | Vote | Results

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By Professor Gregory Bothun and Jesse Jenkins

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed into law the $787 billion economic stimulus package.  The stimulus directs more than $80 billion to start the construction of a new, national clean energy infrastructure.  Many are hailing this clean energy investment as unprecedented, which in the context of the last thirty years of neglected energy priorities is undoubtedly true.  But with all those billions thrown about, it's hard to get a grasp on the scale of this investment.  What does $80 billion really mean in the context of the 21st century United States energy system?  Is this a significant investment or merely the first step on the long road to a green economy?  In order to answer those questions, we'd better brush up on our energy literacy and get familiar with the scale of our energy system.

Welcome to Energy Literacy 101.

Poll

I give the stimulus energy provisions an overall grade of...

5%3 votes
18%10 votes
24%13 votes
28%15 votes
16%9 votes
5%3 votes

| 53 votes | Vote | Results

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Originally posted at WattHead - Energy News and Commentary

President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency pledged to regulate global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants today, granting a petition filed by the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations.    The decision casts an almost palpable shadow of doubt over the fate of roughly 100 proposed coal plants awaiting permits throughout the United States and should offer a brief respite in the ongoing fight against continued reliance on the dirty fossil fuel.

Poll

Obama should...

8%4 votes
31%14 votes
60%27 votes

| 45 votes | Vote | Results

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The Brookings Institution officially unveiled a new proposal yesterday calling for "a new paradigm in energy innovation" at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The proposal, which was developed for over a year and is one of the most in-depth proposals for new energy R&D out there, calls for an "order of magnitude" increase in federal energy R&D investment and proposes a new model for clean energy technology research and commercialization: establishing a national network of regionally-based "Energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes" (e-DIIs) to serve as hubs of distributed research linking the nation's best scientists, engineers, and facilities and effectively combining the forces of academia, government and industry.

Poll

I think this e-DII proposal...

89%17 votes
10%2 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Originally posted at WattHead - Energy News and Commentary

The coal industry has an image problem.  They know it. And they've been spending millions of dollars on a PR ad push to convince the world that a "cleaner" variety of coal is around the corner.  They can make something called "clean coal" a reality, they say.

Well, what if we took the coal industry's "clean coal" promises at their word?

Poll

I'd expect the coal industry to support a ban on dirty conventional coal plants if their "clean coal" promises are true?

53%34 votes
1%1 votes
42%27 votes
1%1 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Coal sludge contains dangerously elevated concentrations of arsenic, EPA says

Cross-posted from WattHead - Energy News and Commentary

It's been nearly two weeks since a torrent of over a billion gallons of coal ash sludge spilled out of an impoundment pond near a massive coal plant in Harriman, TN, but the full horror of the disaster is still being revealed. Yesterday, preliminary results of independent water testing showed dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals at three locations near the environmental disaster, which spans over 300 acres of land and water at the confluence of the Emory and Clinch Rivers in eastern Tennessee. And today, the EPA confirmed that elevated levels of arsenic can be found in the coal sludge now caked over the area.

Poll

This is just as bad as the Exxon Valdez Spill

96%31 votes
3%1 votes

| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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President-elect Barack Obama has tapped green jobs and immigrant rights champion Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA) to head his Labor Department, according to the Associated Press.

Representative Solis was the key sponsor of the Green Jobs Act of 2007 and has been a vocal champion in the House of Representatives for investments in a new, clean energy economy that can spark new innovation and offer pathways out of poverty for millions of Americans.

Poll

So far, Obama's cabinet picks make me feel (please explain vote in comments thread)...

61%41 votes
20%14 votes
16%11 votes
1%1 votes

| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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From our friends at Appalachian Voices:

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held an important hearing yesterday on Bush’s 11th hour rule-making (see my previous post here). As most of our readers will know, one of those last minute rule changes is a repeal of the 25 year old Stream Buffer Zone rule - an important guard against the dumping of mountaintop removal mining waste into our streams.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr gives the most significant and compelling testimony on mountaintop removal mining I have ever seen, and I hope you will take 10 minutes to watch him describe in his own words - and the words of his late father - exactly what is happening to the Appalachian Mountains.

Video and transcript below the jump...

Poll

Bush wins the award for worst environmental record in history

95%63 votes
4%3 votes

| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Cross-posted from the Breakthrough Institute

Last night, the US House of Representatives approved 14 billion in emergency loans to keep GM and Chrysler on life support into the new year.  Senate Republicans are in revolt though and may block passage without new amendments to allow more dramatic restructuring of the company's debt.

I hate to say it, but I'm forced to agree with Republicans on this account: $14 billion to prop up GM and Chrysler until Obama takes office is an obvious half measure, a stall tactic that will merely punt the tough decisions down the line another couple months.  While it may buy us a month or three, the proposed bailout will amount to nothing in the long term unless more dramatic actions to restructure and reinvent the American auto industry are also taken.

Poll

What's your position on the bailout?

0%0 votes
6%5 votes
18%14 votes
15%12 votes
19%15 votes
39%30 votes

| 76 votes | Vote | Results

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Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 10:00 AM PST

Too Big To Fail? Too Big, Period.

by WattHead

Cross-posted from the Breakthrough Institute and WattHead - Energy News and Commentary

The executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler made yet another trek to Washington DC this week - this time ditching the corporate jets to drive hybrid cars - and once again pled for a federal bailout to prop up their struggling companies.  Up to $34 billion taxpayer dollars are apparently all that stands between at least two of the "Big Three" automakers and bankruptcy.

GM's executives told Congress the company will fail very, very soon unless it receives at least $12 billion in loans in the coming months.  Chrysler warned they could go belly up by year's end without $7 billion in government aid.  Even Ford, which is doing a bit better than its two Detroit brethren, is asking for an open, taxpayer-funded line of credit of up to $9 billion dollars.

All this means its time for Congress and the American public to face two basic facts.

Poll

Congress should give Detroit a bailout...

11%6 votes
20%11 votes
49%26 votes
18%10 votes

| 53 votes | Vote | Results

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Cross-posted from WattHead - Energy News and Commentary

Like a losing army that loots and then sets fire to a village before retreating, the Bush Administration continues to employ a "loot and run" strategy, gutting as many environmental regulations as they can before leaving office.

As I reported in October, the Bush Administration has been rushing to codify new mining waste rules that would clear away a critical protection against the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining that is decimating mountains, watersheds and communities across the region.  Yesterday, they won approval of the new "Stream Buffer Rule" - I put that in quotes since it's not much of a buffer for streams anymore - which will make it even easier for mining companies to dump "mining waste" - aka the tops of whole mountains! - on top of running streams.

Poll

Where do you stand on mountain top removal coal mining?

100%37 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 37 votes | Vote | Results

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