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Climate Bill Limps Forward

A draft version of a Senate bill that would limit greenhouse gas emissions is unveiled today.
September 30, 2009

A draft of the Senate’s version of a climate bill has been released. The official version is scheduled to be unveiled officially today in the Senate.

The move comes on the heels of President Obama’s speech to the United Nations in which he called for action on climate change. A House climate bill passed back in May, but since then climate change has taken a back seat to health care reform. There’s been some concern that no climate change legislation will be passed before a meeting in Copenhagen this December where world leaders are supposed to work out a new climate change treaty. With no law in hand, U.S. negotiators may find it hard to sell other countries on strict emissions reductions.

The draft bill tightens emissions caps somewhat compared to the House bill, calling for a 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, rather than a 17 percent reduction. It also contains sections devoted to reducing emissions specifically from transportation sources, as well as incentives for emissions reducing technology such as carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear power plants, and renewable energy.

But much work remains before the bill can become law. For example, some parts of the bill have only placeholder language, awaiting action from committees. Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reportedly said that the bill is on track to be passed by the Senate before the Copenhagen meeting. That’s not to say it will become law by then, of course, as it will still have to be reconciled with the House Bill.

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