U.S. Senate Panel Passes Climate Change Bill Despite Boycott

Senate bill calls for a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020

A key Senate panel on Nov. 5 passed a sweeping climate change bill despite a boycott of deliberations by Republicans opposed to the measure. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the legislation by a vote of 10 to one, with the seven Republicans on the committee absent from the discussion and vote.

Republicans said they would oppose the bill until they had a "comprehensive analysis" of the economic impact of the legislation from the federal watchdog agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Senate legislation faces a long and contentious process ahead, and must be reconciled with a U.S. House bill that calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83% by 2050.

The Senate's slightly more ambitious bill calls for a 20% cut by 2020. Both bills would create a cap-and-trade regime, aimed at setting the total level of domestic emissions allowable and then allocating quotas to companies. Firms that emit less than their quota would be allowed to sell their surplus allocation to others that exceed theirs. Those in excess could also face fines.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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