July 8, 2009

Climate Change Bill Faces Tougher Opposition In Senate

Senate Democrats on Wednesday began their campaign to push for the approval of new climate change legislation, but the initiative may face opposition from Senate Republicans as well as some Democrats.

A shift in climate change policy is a major goal of the Obama administration, but senators may face compromises to legislation in order to gain the support needed to pass the bill.

"Denial of the climate-change problem will not change our destiny; a comprehensive energy and climate bill that caps and then reduces carbon emissions will," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday in a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Chu was one of seven cabinet members ordered by President Obama to testify before the Senate committee in an effort to gain support for the new legislation intended to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"Today's hearing is the kickoff of a historic Senate effort", said Barbara Boxer, majority chairman of the committee.

According to Reuters, Boxer hopes the committee will wrap up the bill before a congressional recess in August.

"Clean energy is to this decade and the next what the space race was to the 1950s and '60s, and America is behind," Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said before the committee.

On June 26, the House passed the new climate change bill in a vote of 219-212, but now Senators "have work to do," said Jackson.

The ambitious bill includes initiatives that would require companies to lower carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 emission levels, according to Reuters.

But the bill passed by the House could face stiff opposition from Republicans as well as moderate Democrats in the Senate.

Republicans oppose the inclusion of a "cap and trade" system in the new legislation that would allow for the buying and selling of pollution permits.

"Once the American public realizes what this legislation will do to their wallets, it will be soundly rejected," said Republican Senator James Inhofe.

But Boxer adamantly argues that "there are no new taxes" being imposed by the legislation.


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