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US senators: action on clean energy urgent

US senators: action on clean energy urgent

U.S. senators tussled over the cost of climate legislation Tuesday with the leading author of the bill maintaining that while energy prices will increase, inaction on global warming would cause even worse economic and security problems.
"Are there some costs? Yes sir, there are some costs," said Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat. But of the array of studies that show restricting greenhouse gases will lead to higher energy prices, he said, "none of them factor in the cost of doing nothing."
Kerry was the leadoff witness as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began a series of marathon hearings this week on a bill that would cap greenhouse gas pollution from power plants and large industrial facilities. The bill aims to reduce emissions 80 percent by mid-century. Kerry is an author of the legislation.
During a stop at a solar energy site in Florida, President Barack Obama warned that opponents, whom he did not identify, would work against the climate bill. "The closer we get to this new energy future, the harder the opposition's going to fight," he said, dismissing criticism that the legislation will harm the economy or cost jobs.
"They're going to argue that we should do nothing, stand pat, do less or delay action yet again," said Obama. "It's a debate between looking backward and looking forward, between those who are ready to seize the future and those who are afraid of the future."
Approval the legislation that has already passed in the House would strengthen the bargaining position of U.S. negotiators at an international climate conference in Denmark in December.
Republican members of the Senate committee were in lock step in their criticism of the so-called "cap-and-trade" legislation, characterizing it as a huge energy tax on average Americans.
"Cap and trade is very expensive. This is something the American people can't tolerate and I don' think they will," said Sen. James Inhofe, the top ranking Republican on the paneol and a vocal skeptic of climate chance science.
But Kerry said it has long been shown that voluntary action has not contained the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are being trapped in the atmosphere. Those gases are causing a dangerous warming of the earth, according to many climate scientists.
"Not taking action is more expensive," said Kerry. He said a curb on fossil fuel use will lead to clean energy jobs and allow the United States to develop new technologies that otherwise would likely be developed by other countries including China.
"America's leadership is on the line here," Kerry said.
Top Obama administration officials sounded a similar theme in their testimony before the committee.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said if the United states does not develop and produce clean energy technologies _ from wind turbines to next-generation batteries and solar cells _ "China and other countries will." He said enactment of climate legislation is the "critical step (that) will drive investment decisions toward clean energy" in the United States.
"Only new legislation can bring about the comprehensive and integrated changes that are needed to restore America's economic health and keep the nation secure over the long term," added EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
But even some Democrats have reservations about the bill assembled by Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat and the committee chairman. She hopes to have a vote on the bill by early November.
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On the Net:
http://www.epw.senate.gov


Updated : 2021-05-10 01:55 GMT+08:00