Senate Gets Climate and Energy Bill, Modified by the Gulf Spill

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". . .this isn't a choice, it's a necessity; and we're going to get it done this year."

The long delayed and much amended Senate plan to deal with global warming and energy was unveiled on Wednesday to considerable fanfare but highly uncertain prospects.

After nearly eight months of negotiations with lawmakers and interest groups, Senators John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, produced a 987-page bill that attempts to limit climate-altering emissions, reduce oil imports and create millions of new energy-related jobs.

Mr. Kerry said that the United States was falling behind in the global race for leadership in clean energy technology and that a comprehensive approach to climate change and energy was long overdue. Joined by representatives of industry, labor, environmental and faith groups, Mr. Kerry declared that it was time to act.

"They understand this isn't a choice, it's a necessity; and we're going to get it done this year," Mr. Kerry said.

But that may prove overly optimistic. The country is nervously watching efforts to halt a damaging oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Senate is torn by deep partisan hostility and the public is uncertain whether the benefits of combating global warming are worth the costs. There is also no assurance that the bill will break through the crowded Senate calendar to reach the floor this year.

President Obama endorsed the bill in a statement. "Americans know what's at stake by continuing our dependence on fossil fuels," Obama said. "But the challenges we face—underscored by the immense tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico—are reason to redouble our efforts to reform our nation's energy policies. For too long, Washington has kicked this challenge to the next generation. This time, the status quo is no longer acceptable to Americans."

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