House Democrats Plan to Introduce Greenhouse-Gas Bill
By Juliet Eilperin
Key House Democrats will unveil legislation Tuesday that aims to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, according to sources familiar with the bill who asked not to be identified.
The measure, co-sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the panel's Energy and Environment Subcommittee, will serve as the main vehicle in the House for climate legislation.
It would establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide that would allow cleaner facilities to sell their pollution permits to dirtier operations. While the bill remains silent on some key issues, such as what portion of pollution allowances would be auctioned off and how the money raised through such an auction would be spent, sources said, it would establish both a national renewable energy standard as well as an energy-efficiency-resource standard that would reduce electricity demand by 15 percent by 2020.
The emissions reduction targets, which are slightly more ambitious than President Obama's short-term climate goals, largely mirror those outlined by the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of business and environmental groups. By 2050, the bill would cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to 2005 levels.
The bill also includes language modeled on the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Deployment Act that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) introduced last year -- promoting the commercial development of carbon sequestration technology by establishing a research fund. The money would be raised through assessing fees on retail electricity suppliers.
International observers have been watching Congress closely for clues as to whether the United States would adopt a binding carbon cap before international negotiators convene in Copenhagen in early December in order to forge a new global climate agreement.
Penny Wong, Australia's Minister for Climate Change and Water, said in an interview Monday that, while she had not seen Waxman and Markey's bill, she was pleased they were working to pass a bill so quickly.
"We're encouraged by the legislature seeking to deal with this issue early," Wong said, "given the importance of this issue and the importance of a [U.S.] domestic platform for international negotiations."
Waxman has said he aims to vote the bill out of his committee by Memorial Day.
March 30, 2009; 10:35 PM ET
Categories: Climate Change
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