One Committee Down for Senate Climate Bill, Five More to Go

by | Nov 5, 2009

US capitol2All seven Republicans in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted voting on the Senate climate bill, allowing the bill pass to pass 10-1 in the morning hours of Nov. 5.

Sen. Max Baucus, (D-Mont.) was the lone “no” vote. Now, the bill must wind its way through five other committees before reaching the full Senate floor, where it will need 60 votes to pass, reports the Wall Street Journal.

As written, the bill would require companies and other large polluters to possess permits for each ton of GHG emissions allowed into the atmosphere. The bill has a goal of reducing U.S. emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, using 2005 as a baseline.

Critics have said that the climate bill would result in undue price pressure on consumers, but a study from Stanford showed that electricity rates would rise only 23 percent over the next 30 years.

Last week, Baucus said the bill is “too ambitious” for setting a GHG emissions reduction target of 20 percent by 2020. Baucus also says that the legislation would not do enough to reign in the EPA on regulating CO2 emissions.

Also in dissent, George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) warned the committee about moving too fast, posing the question, “Why are we trying to jam down this legislation now?”

Republicans cited a need for more time to analyze the bill as their reason for boycotting the Nov. 5 vote.

Democrats have felt pressure from the White House to show at least some progress in advance of the Dec. 5 Copenhagen climate talks, reports Reuters.

While Baucus is sure to seek a lower carbon reduction target as the bill winds its way through other committees, senators from the Midwest and South, where coal reigns supreme, are likely to seek concessions to suit their own needs.

If the bill is watered down too much, liberal supporters may drop their support, observers say.

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