It would be great to feel like celebrating the 219-212 House of Representatives vote to pass the Waxman-Markey climate bill. But I don’t. The bill has serious problems and will probably get much worse in the Senate since conservative states hold more power there.

Our “progressive” leadership in the House behaved about as undemocratically as possible. No amendments were allowed without the approval of the leadership, so here are some of the amendments that were not considered.

  • Restore EPA’s authority to regulate CO2
  • Control financial speculation
  • Reduce offset quantity
  • Improve offset quality
  • Ban international offsets
  • Encourage allowance efficiency
  • Strengthen renewable electricity standards
  • Install solar panels on federal buildings
  • Federal procurement of electric and hybrid vehicles
  • Remove waste incineration from renewable definition

Pretty bad, huh. But here’s the capper. Roughly 25% of the bill’s content, 300 pages, was added at about 3am on the day of the vote, so most Members of Congress weren’t quite sure what they were voting on.

Here’s the sad truth. Lobbyists were all over Capitol Hill making sure that the financial interests of their employers were well served by Waxman-Markey. The 1200-plus pages that it now runs are more a reflection of the deals made than the process of controlling carbon. When bills get this complex, the people do not win.

Waxman-Markey’s progress through the House made it crystal clear that aggressive climate action will require getting the money out of American politics. Check out George Monbiot’s article, The Failed State of US Climate Change Policy, on this same subject.

If you’re ready to take action to reduce the influence of money on government, you may be interested in Public Citizen’s Fair Elections campaign.

Business as usual for lobbyists means inadequate action to prevent climate catastrophe.