Partisan Bickering Puts Climate Bill in Jeopardy

by | Nov 3, 2009

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CongressA key U.S. Senate panel, controlled by Democrats, will begin debating a climate change bill this week despite a planned boycott by minority Republicans who demand more study of the issue, including economic costs on utilities, factories and oil refineries, reports Reuters.

Senator Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, wants to have a bill approved before the international summit on global warming meets in Copenhagen in December, reports Reuters.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Boxer and Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, would place a cap on carbon emissions from power plants, factories and other large sources of greenhouse-gas emissions and create a market for companies to buy and sell a limited number of pollution credits.

Most Republicans and some Democrats from coal-producing and manufacturing states are concerned that the bill would raise energy costs for businesses and consumers and harm the economy, reports Bloomberg News.

Boxer said she retained the right to advance the 959-page bill without Republicans, reports the New York Times. A group of Senate GOP committee leaders said they were “deeply troubled” by Boxer’s suggestion that she would move ahead with the climate bill debate without trying to work with the Republicans, according to the newspaper.

Republicans want more analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the economic impact of legislation that would require utilities, factories and oil refineries to cut their carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels, reports Reuters.

A statement released in October by Boxer indicates that the EPA’s economic analysis finds no significant increase in cost to American families compared to the Waxman-Markey legislation.

In an attempt to address Republican concerns, Boxer told reporters that the EPA could come before the committee to answer technical questions about the bill, and she would extend a deadline for Republicans to notify her of amendments to the bill, reports Reuters.

Adding to the challenge, Democratic Senator John Kerry is holding talks with Republicans and moderate Democrats that could lead to a different measure presented to the full Senate next year, including incentives for expanding the U.S. nuclear power industry and offshore oil drilling, reports Reuters.

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