House Climate Bill on Green Transpo: It’s Better Than You Thought!

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 final text of the climate measure, available at the Library of Congress, tells a different story.

Section
132(c) 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 can use up to 74 percent of their emissions allowances on
transportation. At least 20 percent of the credits must be set aside
for tax breaks and other production incentives for renewable energy, at
5 percent for building retro-fits, and 1 percent for aid to low-income
areas.