The Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives was scrambling Thursday afternoon in an attempt to line up enough votes to pass the so-called "climate change bill" with hope that it could be scheduled for a vote on Friday.
President Barack Obama took to the Rose Garden early Thursday afternoon to deliver a statement in support of the proposal, saying, "The energy bill before the House will finally create a set of incentives that will spark a clean-energy transformation of our economy." He added, "I can't stress enough the importance of this vote."
The bill, H.R.2454, is a wide-ranging revamp of national energy policy that would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 17% below 2005 by 2020 and 80% by 2050, would impose carbon emission caps on industry, promote development of alternative energy sources; and set new energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial buildings; appliances and lighting.
Under Title II "Energy Efficiency," the bill mandates increases in the energy efficiency of homes of 30% upon enactment and 50% above standards set under the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by 2014, increasing by 5% in 2017 and increasing another 5% each three years thereafter until 2030. It would supercede state and local building codes regarding energy efficiency, withhold federal money from states deemed out of compliance and provide civil penalties for builders and/or homeowners.Each day of occupancy of a structure deemed out of compliance would be treated as a separate violation.
It would also give enforcement powers to the Cabinet level Secretary of Energy.
Obama's only reference to these provisions in his Rose Garden statement Thursday was: "It will spur new energy savings, like the efficient windows and other materials that reduce heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer."
Opponents of the bill include most Republicans, a handful of conservative Democrats, the National Association of Home Builders and a coalition of organizations representing residential and commercial real estate businesses. These organizations contend that the targets are unreasonable and based on flawed scientific assumptions.
Democrats in recent days have sought to recast the legislation as a jobs bill to help attract votes among their own caucus. The bill needs 218 votes to pass the House, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not expected to schedule it if there is a chance it could go down to defeat.
To date, the Senate has been considering less sweeping measures regarding energy.