Senate's climate bill emphasizes jobs, security, protecting planet

Oct 01, 2009 By Renee Schoof

Backed by a giant American flag and rows of young veterans and business executives, a group of Democratic senators unveiled an energy and climate bill Wednesday that they say will increase jobs and cut the billions spent on foreign oil.

The bill's framework is similar to one that squeaked through the House of Representatives in June. It would require reductions of heat-trapping gases, set up protections from higher energy prices for consumers and energy-intensive industries, and provide investment and incentives for clean energy.

It also would increase support for the continued use of coal but with the emissions greatly reduced, and for nuclear energy and natural gas. Those provisions are intended to win over many senators who are ambivalent or who oppose climate legislation.

Supporters face an uphill fight getting enough votes to clear the Senate's 60-vote requirement. Their opening move stressed that the new Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act puts American economic and security interests first.

"We know clean energy is the ticket to strong economic growth," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who cited a recent University of California study that found that the House version of the bill would create 1.9 million jobs and increase household income.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the main author of the legislation, said a transition to cleaner energy would reduce the billions of dollars spent on foreign oil, some of which ended up supporting terrorists.

"Our security and our economy will both be strengthened, and we cannot afford not to act," Kerry said.

Republican leaders said the measure was the equivalent of a new tax.

"The last thing American families need right now is to be hit with a new every time they flip on a light switch or fill up their car, but that's exactly what this bill would do," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement Wednesday.

No Republicans declared support for the bill. Kerry said that "there are a number of Republicans who want to get this over the finish line, and we're going to work with them." He didn't identify them.

President Barack Obama said the draft put the country a step closer to being "in control of our energy future." He said his administration was "deeply committed to passing a bill that creates new American jobs and the clean energy incentives that foster innovation."

Kerry said the bill supported all forms of energy in ways that made them clean and efficient, including coal.

Coal today is the largest source of heat-trapping gas emissions.

The bill sets up a program to support capturing carbon dioxide from coal combustion and storing it underground, instead of letting it accumulate in the atmosphere.

"We've gone further with respect to some of the coal needs," Kerry said. "I'm convinced we're going to pull this together."

Kerry said that cleaner energy would create jobs in all regions of the country "that stay here in America."

Emissions reductions would be required only by large companies that emit 25,000 tons of carbon or more per year. Farms, homes and small businesses are exempted, Kerry said.

Even so, the bill would cover three-quarters of the nation's emissions of heat-trapping gases. The required reductions would cut global warming pollution by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, slightly more than the 17 percent in the House bill, and 83 percent by 2050, the level consistent with what scientific studies say will be necessary to prevent destructive warming that brings coastal inundation, more frequent heat waves, extinction of species and other results of a climate shift.

Like the House version, the Senate bill uses some funds from the sales of emissions allowances to protect consumers from electricity, natural gas and heating oil price increases.

The draft doesn't spell out how the value of these allowances, which will total in the billions of dollars, would be distributed among consumers, industries, energy research and other programs. Boxer said her committee would fill in those details soon.

The Senate version also puts a ceiling on the price of emission allowances and stronger oversight of the market for buying and selling them.

Another cost-containment provision is the use of offsets, which allow companies to make up for some of their pollution by reducing it elsewhere. Since carbon can be taken up by plants and stored in the soil, for example, the bill includes provisions to pay farmers and forest owners for offsets.

The sale of emission allowances would provide the consumer aid and funding for other measures in the bill. Boxer said it wouldn't increase the federal deficit.

Boxer said she expected her committee to pass the bill within weeks. Five other committees also have a say in the legislation.

Also on Wednesday, Nike resigned from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce board of directors, saying it disagreed with the chamber over climate change. The business group lobbied against the House climate bill and recently challenged the science of climate change. Nike said in a statement that it supported "aggressive climate change legislation" and a rapid shift to a sustainable economy.

Nike said it would remain a member of the chamber to advocate for legislation from within. In recent weeks, three utilities resigned their membership over the business group's climate position.


News release about the bill, with links to summary, overview and other details, from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

(c) 2009, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau on the World Wide Web at>

Explore further: US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Senate climate-change bill to be unveiled this week

Sep 29, 2009

Two top Senate Democrats are set to introduce a climate-change bill this week that would put new limits on carbon emissions, as world leaders prepare for a climate summit in Denmark after agreement last week by the G20 nations ...

GOP attacks Democrats for climate proposal

May 30, 2009

(AP) -- Republicans on Saturday attacked the climate change proposal crafted by congressional Democrats and endorsed by President Barrack Obama as doing little to reduce global warming while saddling Americans ...

Australia targets 20 pct renewable energy by 2020

Aug 18, 2009

Australia on Thursday passed a clean energy law requiring the country to produce 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020 in move that could draw billions of dollars of green investment.

Warner: Climate change a national security issue

Apr 24, 2009

(AP) -- Former Vice President Al Gore, a leading voice on climate change, urged lawmakers Friday to overcome partisan differences and pass legislation to curb greenhouse gases.

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

( —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2009
The Problem: No Science to Support the CO2 Scare

Despite the Nobel Prizes given to Al Gore and the consensus scientists who favor exaggerated claims that CO2 has a greater influence on global climate than the Sun the simple fact is this: Earth's Heat Source -(is)- The Sun!


1. Stuart Clark, The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2007) 211 pp.

2. Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth: Global warming - the missing science (Taylor Trade Publishing, New York, NY, 2009) 504 pp.

3. Richard Mackey, "The Sun's role in regulating the Earth's climate dynamics", Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 25-73

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2009
the simple fact is this: Earth's Heat Source -(is)- The Sun!

Yes, but would you blame the sun if you got heat stroke while wearing a parka in the summer?

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...