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US House Democrats move ahead on climate bill

 Democrats serving on the Energy and Commerce Committees walk from the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama in the State Dining Room ...
 Democrats serving on the Energy and Commerce Committees walk from the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama in the State Dining Room ...

Obama

Democrats serving on the Energy and Commerce Committees walk from the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama in the State Dining Room ...

Obama

Democrats serving on the Energy and Commerce Committees walk from the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama in the State Dining Room ...

Major lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a strategy for replacing gas-guzzling cars with more fuel-efficient models, but much tougher negotiations lie ahead on knotty issues such as pricing and capping greenhouse gas emissions from large companies.
President Barack Obama summoned 36 House Democrats to the White House to urge them to agree on climate and energy legislation that is under increasing criticism from Republicans and members of his own party.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee emerged from the meeting claiming a modest victory. They said they agreed to embrace a "cash for clunkers" plan that would provide money for people who replace old, low-efficiency cars with new, more fuel-efficient models.
The plan has considerable support from the auto industry and many Republicans, so it was not a major breakthrough. Still, House members cited it as an example of how their committee can reach consensus. But they acknowledged that tougher matters remain, and not all of them are strictly partisan.
"Our committee is attempting to develop a consensus," committee chairman Henry Waxman, a Democrat, told reporters after the White House meeting. "Many of the issues split us along a regional basis. But we're talking to each other."
Among the nettlesome issues are Obama's "cap and trade" proposal to set a limit and price on greenhouse gas emissions and then allow corporations to buy and sell the rights to release gasses believed to contribute to global warming.
Waxman said he wants the committee to wrap up a climate bill by Memorial Day so it can move to its other big priority: tackling Obama's proposal to revamp the nation's health care system.
Waxman and Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat, unveiled a draft bill in March that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with Obama's campaign proposal.
But the committee has postponed writing the final version of the bill because of concerns raised by moderate Democrats about the cost.
Obama's budget expects to raise $650 billion by auctioning off permits to companies that release heat-trapping gases, with the bulk of the money going back to families to help with higher energy prices.
Democrats from coal and industrial states are pushing Waxman and Markey to distribute at least some of those permits for free to ease costs.
Meanwhile, House Republicans gathered for their own energy summit to criticize the Waxman-Markey bill, which they said would create a national energy tax and hurt middle-class families and small businesses. Similar meetings are being planned this month in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and California before Republicans roll out their own plans to curb fossil fuel use and clean up the environment.
Rep. Mike Pence said Tuesday that the Republicans will look for commonsense solutions to lower energy costs, increase energy supply and create jobs.
Pence said the Democrats' plan will "kill jobs, raise taxes and lead to more government intrusion."
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of seven House members, including two Republicans on the Energy committee, unveiled rival legislation Tuesday.
The American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act, which is an update of a bill introduced last year, pays for the transition to cleaner energy sources using royalties from expanded oil and gas production offshore and on other federal lands.
At a news conference introducing the bill, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, said progress on the Waxman-Markey bill _ which would place a limit on greenhouse gases by putting a price on heat-trapping pollution _ was "essentially stalled."
"You can require, mandate until you turn blue," Abercrombie said. "If you don't finance it, you don't actually invest in it, you don't actually do it, you end up trading pollution. This is paid for."
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Associated Press writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
http://energycommerce.house.gov


Updated : 2021-07-24 01:13 GMT+08:00