Climate bill up for a vote

Looks like the House leadership is taking its chances on a vote on Waxman-Markey’s climate bill today or tomorrow, despite some uncertainty about the outcome.   And not all environmentalists are hoping for a victory — in addition to worries about biofuel lifecycle emissions that Jonathan discussed earlier, there’s concern over the recent deal Waxman and Markey struck with the Agricultural Committee to relocate the power to regulate farm and forestry offsets from EPA to the Dept of Ag — which has not, historically, seen its mission as conservation.  See this Greenwire story (sub. req’d), quoting our law colleague Michael Wara of Stanford and others about their concern over the new offsets provision:

The provisions unveiled yesterday rely too heavily on clean-energy projects in the agriculture and forestry sector with an unproven record in curbing greenhouse gases, they say. Others argue that the language is too vague to guarantee that the federal government will be a competent emissions watchdog with offsets from forests and farms.

“This language is a bad development if you care about stopping global warming,” said Michael Wara, a law professor at Stanford University.

. . . 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to control offsets from forest and farms, rather than U.S. EPA. The adjusted measure calls for the creation of an “advisory” committee with nine members, including two appointed by the USDA secretary, to “provide scientific and technical advice” on governing them.

The new text outlines the exact types of agricultural offsets eligible under a cap-and-trade program. The list now include everything from “manure management and disposal” to “urban tree planting” to “reduction in the frequency and duration of flooding of rice paddies.”

More and more, the decision whether to support ACES in its current form is coming down to a calculation about its impact at the Copenhagen talks in December.  Despite its flaws, is it enough to spur the types of international commitments we think we need? 

Fingers crossed for the afternoon and, if it passes, beyond…