Etheridge votes for environmental bill

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Representative Bob Etheridge, the only N.C. member of the House Ways and Means Committee, voted for H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 219-212.

The legislation will revitalize our economy, protect consumers, create millions of jobs, increase U.S. competitiveness and increase national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

“I have long supported clean energy to create jobs and build a new economy,” said Etheridge. “This legislation is not a perfect bill, but I supported this legislation because we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and position our country as a leader in clean energy.”

H.R. 2454 establishes a “cap and trade” system in which emissions of greenhouse gases would be capped overall, and allowances for such emissions either given away to polluters or sold.

Initially, three-quarters of the allowances would be distributed free of charge, but by 2030, 75% of the allowances would have to be purchased. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the net economy-wide cost of H.R. 2454 would be about .48 cents per day, per household.

North Carolina has positioned itself as a leader on clean energy nationwide with 50% of the power generated in the state coming from nuclear power. The measure requires electric utilities to produce 6% of their power from renewable sources by 2012, and 20% by 2020. It also sets new energy efficiency and water use standards for buildings and consumer products.

“We’ve seen the damage that $4 a gallon gas prices pose to our economy when we wait to act on energy policy,” Etheridge continued. “We should move towards energy independence to ensure our national security. By doing nothing, or delaying action, we risk further crippling our economy. That is not a risk we can afford.”