PI Original Progress Illinois Friday June 26th, 2009, 6:39pm

Climate Change Bill Passes House; Kirk Yea, Foster Nay (UPDATED)

As we explained earlier today, when it came to the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, the real wild cards among the Illinois congressional delegation were Democrat Bill Foster and Republicans Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert. This afternoon, Biggert made clear that she was going ...

As we explained earlier today, when it came to the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, the real wild cards among the Illinois congressional delegation were Democrat Bill Foster and Republicans Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert.  This afternoon, Biggert made clear that she was going to oppose the bill.  And moments ago, the full House voted on the measure, approving it by a vote of 219-212.  In the end, Kirk voted in favor, while Foster against.  It will be interesting to read the explanations from both of them.

In the meantime, here's Rep. Jan Schakowsky's statement on the bill:

“For over a century the United States has embraced on energy policy based almost entirely on fossil fuels that have had several dangerous consequences for today. This outdated policy has compromised our national security by making us reliant on foreign oil, has led the United States to lag behind other countries in the research and development of new energy technologies that would have created jobs and has poisoned our planet. Now we have an opportunity to change directions.

“When I was back in my district last recess I could feel the crackling of new innovation. S & C Electric is making our electric grid much smarter and more reliable. Northwestern University is enabling entrepreneurs who are using nanotechnology and applying it to the energy field and using it to the electric window shut down, but those 260 skilled workers were rehired with help from the recovery bill that we passed. These are just a few of the thousands of success stories around the country, and the 1.7 million good jobs that will be created with the passage of this bill.”

And here's Rep. Mike Quigley's statement:

“It’s hard to see the road ahead when times are tough; I get that,” said Quigley.  “We have to remember though, that the cost of inaction far outweighs today’s price tag. Energy costs are on the rise due to increased demand, and we’re on an unsustainable path that will increase costs much more if we don’t take action now. Going green will save green, because future savings will quickly outpace immediate costs.  This bill will grow our GDP, help clear our air of harmful pollution, create clean energy jobs that will stay in America, and provide us with both environmental and economic hope for tomorrow.”

UPDATE: Here's Foster's statement:

“As a scientist, I believe that climate change is real and that action is necessary.  It is also crucial that we restructure our energy systems to increase efficiency and reduce our dependence on imported sources.  However, I have always believed we have a responsibility to act in a way that comes with the lowest possible cost to the economy. A more thoughtful and measured bill could have mitigated significantly more greenhouse gas per dollar of expenditure.  It is my hope that the Senate will make significant improvements to this legislation.”

UPDATE II: Springfield environmental blogger Will Reynolds comments on the Foster vote:

Foster surprised me. The Sierra Club made a strong effort to help elect him. Any member of Congress who voted against this bill will have a very difficult time getting the support of any major environmental group.

Of course, the bill is imperfect. Compromises to the coal industry and other polluters were made to get it passed. The next step is getting a stronger version through the Senate.

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