Stronger climate bill introduced in senate

Amid Republican opposition, Democratic leaders introduced a climate change bill in the Senate Wednesday that would cut more greenhouse gasses than that passed by the House. “Our health, our security, our economy, our environment, all demand we reinvent the way America uses energy,” Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry said in the ceremony held outside the Capitol.

The 821-page Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act would require that U.S. emissions fall 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, stricter than the 17 percent drop mandated by the House bill. Both the House and the Senate bills require an 83 percent drop from 2005 levels by 2050. Kerry and California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer co-authored the bill and it will now be taken up in the Environment and Public Works Committee, which Boxer chairs. In promoting their legislation, both lawmakers claimed the energy legislation isn’t just about a healthy environment, but also national and economic security. Kerry said it will divert American dollars that currently flow towards hostile nations, and which get into the pockets of terrorist organizations.

In predicting that the bill will stimulate the economy, Boxer referred to a report by the University of California, Berkley published this week that said the House energy bill, passed in June, would create up to 1.9 million jobs by 2020. “We know clean energy is the ticket to strong, stable economic growth,” she said. And of course, the bill tackles climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, which are driving global warming and ocean acidification.

“Let’s not quit until we have fulfilled our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren,” Boxer declared. Farms, homes, and small businesses would be exempt from emissions controls. Still, companies that emit 25,000 tons of carbon a year would be subject to restrictions. But a cost control provision has been put in place for these companies- a top price of $28 per ton of greenhouse gasses emitted.

The details of how pollution allowances will be awarded have yet to be worked out. The act is supposed to be budget neutral.

Nick Wilson, Courthouse News Service, 30 September 2009. Full article.

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