Senate Climate Bill Wars Begin

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". . .at this point, lawmakers are finding plenty to disagree about."

For climate legislation, clearing the House last month by a slim seven-vote margin marked a major step toward passage of the first comprehensive regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. But that was only the beginning. A series of hurdles and open questions remain. This week, the Senate begins in earnest the slog to produce its own version of the legislation with a set of hearings that will help shape key, controversial issues in the draft (including the role of agriculture in offsetting carbon emissions and producing alternative fuels, how to control emissions while competing in a global economy and how to manage international trade).

Lawmakers on the Committee on Environment & Public Works heard testimony Tuesday from the Obama administration's energy, environment and agriculture chiefs in a general hearing on legislative tools for "moving America toward a clean energy economy and reducing global warming pollution." EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in her opening testimony, "I know there are a variety of proposals pending in the Senate that have the same goals," namely: decreasing reliance on oil imports, creating jobs in "emerging clean energy technologies" and reducing pollution. But at this point, lawmakers are finding plenty to disagree about.

Jackson is focusing much of her testimony on the question of cost, one of the major sources of opposition to the cap and trade system and renewable energy mandates approved in the House version.

Jackson cited support for legislation like the version passed in the House from some labor unions, manufacturing companies, electric utilities, environmental groups and consumer advocates. Noting that the Congressional Budget Office expects the legislation to cost households less than a dollar a day by 2020, she asked:
"Can anyone honestly say that the head of an American household would not spend a dollar a day to safeguard the well-being of his or her children, to reduce the amount of money that we send overseas for oil, to place American entrepreneurs back in the lead of the global marketplace, and to create new American jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced?"

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