Waxman releases cap-and-trade draft

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a draft today of comprehensive energy legislation, encompassing renewable energy targets, smart grid technology, and most importantly, cap-and-trade. Under that policy, the government would set a ceiling of pollution levels that a polluter could not exceed without acquiring additional "allowances."

The Waxman draft, however, skirts one of the more controversial aspects of the cap and trade debate: would the additional allowances be (1) auctioned off entirely; (2) initially provided for free to vulnerable industries, or (3) some combination of the two. "This issue will be addressed through discussions among Committee members," the summary of the draft states.

The ultimate goal of the draft legislation would be to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to 83% below 2005 levels by the year 2050.

The renewable energy part of the legislation would require all "retail electricity suppliers" to generate 25% of their