Concessions on energy bill expected in Senate

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, a centerpiece of President Obama’s agenda, won narrow House passage on June 26, setting the stage for a battle in the Senate, where all 58 Democrats and two independents will be needed to bring the measure to a vote.

Democrats laud the landmark legislation, which passed on a 219-212 vote, as a jobs creator. Republicans label it a domestic job killer. The differing views are expected to play out in the 2010 mid-term election.

The bill aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 by:
• capping emissions beginning in three years;
• establishing a large-scale vehicle electrification program;
• developing a nationwide “smart grid” to deliver electricity using digital technology;
• requiring the president to set motor vehicle emissions standards; and
• creating a permit program for companies that emit greenhouse gases. Under such a cap-and-trade program, companies could trade, bank, borrow or sell unused permits with other companies.
To win support for the bill from coal-state members and other representatives concerned about jobs in their districts, House leaders gave away free emission allowances to industry and interest groups, including coal-fired utilities, oil firms, algae makers and superconductor manufacturers, The Washington Post reported.

More concessions are expected in the Senate, where supporters are scrambling to garner 60 votes, the number needed to advance the measure to a full Senate vote. Before the legislation reaches such a test vote, it faces five Senate committees this summer. A vote on the bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., could come as early as the fall.

European countries are pushing the U.S. to cap greenhouse emissions before a climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.

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