The headline would seem simple enough but it was harder than most people could have imagined reaching consensus amongst Dems in the House on a bill to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. But, six weeks after House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Rep. Ed Markey introduced the legislation, an agreement was finally reached Tuesday evening with the Blue Dogs and Rural Caucus over the final sticking points.
Ending a turf war, Waxman – whose committee has jurisdiction over the Environmental Protection Agency — allowed the Agriculture Department, not the EPA, to oversee a potentially lucrative program of energy offsets for farmers (Peterson allowed that the Obama Administration could weigh in on the EPA’s role in the issue, if any). And Waxman agreed to bar the EPA for five years from calculating how much greenhouse gas emissions are generated when forests are converted to crop fields for ethanol and biofuels. The move helps get ethanol and biofuels counted as renewable energies, thus benefiting from a big renewable investment in another part of the bill that aims to see 20% of U.S. energy derived from green sources by 2025.
When asked Peterson said he believed the bill would enjoy “broad support” and even “draw a few Republicans.” Peterson’s changes will be added as an amendment when the 900+ page bill reaches the House floor Friday.
Peterson, who said he represents the voting power of 45 Blue Dogs and House Agriculture Committee Democrats, told reporters late Tuesday that he didn’t think they’d get a deal. “It was touch and go,” he said, shaking his head. Strikingly, Peterson said he dealt little with the Administration in the negotiations – speaking instead with Waxman and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Obama pushed for the legislation in remarks Tuesday, but the Administration has been markedly less involved in the climate change bill than in the stimulus, budget or health care reform. Once the global warming bill clears the House, though, it faces a far from certain future in the Senate where Obama’s support will be more keenly needed.