WM map

The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill passed the House narrowly on Friday. The epic, historic, landmark (insert favorite, happy superlative here) piece of legislation that sets limits on greenhouse gases and invests in renewable energy passed narrowly with a 219 to 212 vote. Even President Barack Obama made last-minute calls to get this thing approved. So how did lawmakers vote in the Cascadia region? 

The tally was an even split for and against—10 to 10, mostly down party lines. But there were a couple of surprises thrown in.

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  • Generally Democrats and Congress members from the western portion of the NW states supported Waxman-Markey (or the American Clean Energy and Security Act), while Republicans and those on the eastern side of states voted against it—with a couple of exceptions.

    Seattle’s Rep. Jim McDermott was on board. McDermott had raised concerns about cap and trade, offering his own climate-change bill, a measure to cap greenhouse gas emissions and sell the permits at a government-set price, which essentially functions as a carbon tax. In a statement McDermott said his concerns about the stability of a cap-and-trade system and protections for low-income Americans who face higher energy costs in the future were both addressed by the final bill.

    But Springfield’s Rep. Peter DeFazio jumped ship. It isn’t that the Oregon Democrat doesn’t support controlling greenhouse gases, he just doesn’t like cap and trade, like really doesn’t like cap and trade (he’s railed against it in a letter to the Oregonian and in a talk at the City Club of Portland. He said in the letter: “a cap-and-trade system is prone to market manipulation and speculation without any guarantee of meaningful (greenhouse gas) emission reductions.”

    Our analysis indicates that those criticisms aren’t legit. In our updated Cap and Trade 101: A Climate Policy Primer, we dug into those concerns (see pages 19-20, “The Gaming Worry”). Super briefly, manipulation isn’t a worry because other cap-and-trade systems have worked (Europe’s, the Northeast state’s RGGI program, and the sulfur cap), the bill includes provisions to prevent gaming, and the carbon market is fundamentally different than energy and housing-mortgage markets.

    The other folks switching it up were Republican Rep. Dave Reichert from Washington’s city of Auburn voting yes, and Western Idaho’s Democrat Rep. Walt Minnick voting no.

    Here’s how the votes came out:

    Washington (6-2):


    • Rick Larsen (D)
    • Norm Dicks (D)
    • Jay Inslee (D)
    • Dave Reichert (R)
    • Brian Baird (D)
    • James McDermott (D)


    • Doc Hastings (R)
    • Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R)

    Oregon (3-2):


    • David Wu (D)
    • Kurt Schrader (D)
    • Earl Blumenauer (D)


    • Greg Walden (R)
    • Peter DeFazio (D)

    California (1-1):


    • Michael Thompson (D)


    • Walter Herger (R)

    Idaho (0-3):


    • Walt Minnick (D)
    • Michael Simpson (R)

    Montana (0-1):


    • Dennis Rehberg (R)

    Alaska (0-1):


    • Donald Young (R)

    Map showing Waxman-Markey votes geographically comes from the New York Times—see the entire interactive map here.