House Climate Bill on Green Transpo: The Details

Late Update: An earlier version of this post used the
committee-approved version of
the climate bill rather than the final, House-passed version. The
climate bill’s identifying number was changed at the last minute, from
the original H.R. 2454 to H.R. 2998, which can be downloaded at the
fourth link from the top on the House Rules Committee’s website. Streetsblog Capitol Hill regrets the error.

The
climate change bill that squeaked through the House on Friday night
allows U.S. states to use a share of their carbon emissions allowances
to invest in green transportation, thanks to the combined efforts of a
group of senior Democrats. 

The deal was billed last week
as a narrow one, letting transit and other sustainable transportation
receive 10 percent of the states’ allowances (which actually comprise
10 percent of the bill’s total haul — much of which will be given to
industry).

But the committee-approved version of the climate measure, available at the Library of Congress, tells a different story.

Section
132(c) of the committee’s draft says that states can use "not less than
15 percent" of their emissions allowances for any of the following
purposes (emphasis mine):

  • revamping building codes to be more energy-efficient
  • an energy-efficient manufactured homes program
  • a building energy performance labeling program
  • setting up a "smart grid" for electricity
  • energy-efficient transportation planning 
  • help for low-income areas seeking efficiency improvements
  • "other cost-effective energy efficiency programs"

Theoretically,
states could have used up to 74 percent of their emissions allowances
on transportation. The language was changed to reflect the more
restrictive 10 percent limit at the same time that the bill’s language
on metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) was changed to line up
with that of the House transportation committee’s recent six-year federal bill.

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