Senate Committee Passes Climate Bill

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The Climate Bill is slowly making its way through Congress, but many are pushing for quicker action, in order to have a more concrete piece of legislation before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month.

The main goals of the bill are greater energy independence for America and a cap on pollution. Within the text is a target emissions level reduction of 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Officially called the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” the bill totals 959 pages.

Photo: Flickr/melancholic optimist

If passed, the Climate Bill would set the first-ever U.S. greenhouse gas limits. Photo: Flickr/melancholic optimist

Six committees will weigh in on the proposed legislation before a full Senate vote. Senators say it will not likely reach the Senate floor by the end of the year.

However, the Copenhagen talks are set to begin Dec. 7, and many believe U.S. leadership will be critical in forging an international climate change agreement.

“Copenhagen is very important symbolically,” Sen. Arlen Specter told The New York Times.  “And Copenhagen would have been more impressed had we moved further. But Copenhagen will be impressed at least that we have the resoluteness to move ahead now.”

While most members of the U.S. Climate Action Network applauded the committee and Senator Boxer for their efforts in passing the bill, others have spoken out, pleading with senators to not weaken the bill in the effort of gaining bipartisan support.

The Union of Concerned Scientists believe the bill falls short on the end of funding renewable energy. “While the limit on carbon emissions would help move the nation toward clean energy, direct funding for renewables is critical to accelerate the transformation,” the group released in a statement.

Friends of the Earth also sees missing elements in the legislation. “While the bill reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today is in some ways better than the bill that passed the House in June […],” Friends of Earth President Erich Pica said in a statement, “it remains a woefully disproportionate response to the tremendous economic, security and public health threats posed by global warming.”

Comprehensive climate and energy legislation is one of President Obama’s main goals. “My administration is deeply committed to passing a bill that creates new American jobs and the clean energy incentives that foster innovation,” the President said in November.

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