Climate bill seen possible “in weeks”

In Americas, Governments & Politics, News Headlines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate’s top environmental lawmaker offered a preview on Wednesday of major component of climate change legislation she said could be introduced “in weeks, not months.”

“We are not sitting back and waiting for some magic moment,” Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters. “We’re ready to go.”

Boxer shepherded carbon-capping legislation to the Senate floor last year, the most progress any climate change bill has made in the U.S. Congress. That bill won 48 votes, with 36 opposed, but died after a procedural maneuver by opponents.

Any new legislation to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide — such as those from coal-fired power plants and fossil-fueled vehicles — would build on that earlier measure, but would not follow it exactly, Boxer said.

“We may move in three weeks, we may move in six weeks, we could move in 10 weeks,” she said. “We could get a bill out of committee tomorrow … I want to get a bill out of there that every member has a stake in, every member understands every word of it, and so it will take a while …

“It could be weeks, not months, but it will be before the end of this year,” she said.

That timeline would dovetail with moves toward an international agreement on climate change, set to be worked out in Copenhagen in December.

Environmental activists, including Boxer, have hailed the new Obama administration’s commitment to U.S. leadership in the global process, as well as support for a law to cap carbon emissions and trade allowances for them in the United States.


Boxer’s principles for global warming legislation aim for a law that would:

— set “certain and enforceable” short and long-term emissions targets;

— ensure state and local entities keep working to address global warming;

— establish a market-based system that cuts carbon emissions;

— use revenues from this carbon market to help consumers make the transition to clean energy and invest in new technology and efficiency measures;

— ensure a level global playing field with incentives for polluting countries to give their share to the international effort to curb climate change.

These goals won quick applause from environmental and conservation groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Environment America and Environmental Defense Fund.

The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents power companies, voiced encouragement with some reservations, saying the principles “offered many areas of common ground between the public interest community and the private sector.”

The council said in a statement that cost containment and the use of new technologies were not emphasized enough in Boxer’s document, and questioned the document’s “apparent commitment” to let state and local programs continue after a federal law is in place.

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