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Obama team: US needs bill to lead in clean energy

Obama team: US needs bill to lead in clean energy

The Obama administration warned Tuesday that the U.S. could slip further behind China and other countries in clean energy development if Congress fails to pass climate legislation, even as the bill's chief author acknowledged that reducing heat-trapping pollution will increase energy costs.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate panel that the U.S. has stumbled in the clean energy race and to catch up Congress must enact comprehensive energy legislation that puts the first-ever limits on the gases blamed for global warming.
"The United States ... has fallen behind," said Chu. "But I remain confident that we can make up the ground."
With weeks remaining before 192 nations gather in Copenhagen, Denmark to try to negotiate a new global treaty to slow climate change, time is running out for the Senate to pass a climate bill this year.
While the legislation is likely to clear the environment panel, where Democrats hold a five-vote majority, as many as five other committees have jurisdiction over the bill before it goes to the Senate floor. The House of Representatives has passed an energy bill.
Chu said enactment of climate legislation is the "critical step (that) will drive investment decisions toward clean energy."
Chu was one of five administration officials, including three Cabinet secretaries, to push for legislation before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee as it opened debate on a 925-page bill that would reduce greenhouse gases by about 80 percent by mid-century.
His comments were echoed by Democrats, including the bill's chief author Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat who told the panel that "America's leadership is on the line."
But in a replay of what happened in the House, which passed its version of the bill in June, Republicans and some moderate Democrats scoffed at the cost, which would put in place a cap-and-trade system that would put a price on heat-trapping pollution and allow companies to buy and sell permits to meet emissions targets.
Sen. James Inhofe, the panel's top Republican on the panel, and a skeptic of the science behind global warming, said Americans would not stomach the expense.
"This is something the American people can't tolerate and I don't think they will," Inhofe said.
An Environmental Protection Agency analysis released late Friday said the average household would pay an additional $80 to $111 a year to power their homes and fuel their cars if the bill becomes law and businesses pass on the cost of reducing pollution to consumers.
Kerry acknowledged that the bill would raise energy prices, but said the savings from reducing energy and the money to be made in new technologies were far greater.
"Are there some costs? Yes, sir, there are some costs," Kerry said. He added that while an array of studies show restricting greenhouse gases will lead to higher energy prices, "none of them factor in the cost of doing nothing."
Kerry got some much-needed backup from President Barack Obama, who made a stop at a solar energy site in Florida Tuesday.
The president warned that opponents, whom he did not identify, would work against the climate bill.
"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."
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On the Net:
http://www.epw.senate.gov


Updated : 2020-12-04 17:08 GMT+08:00