The Heat Is Online

Senate Tables Climate Bill Until Next Year

US Senate to act on climate bill in 2010

Agence France-Presse, Nov. 18, 2009

WASHINGTON — The US Senate will act in early 2010 on legislation to battle climate change, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday, ending hopes of a breakthrough by next month's global talks.

"We are going to try to do that sometime in the spring," Reid told reporters, with a White House-backed push to remake US health care still dominating the Senate agenda just weeks before the congressional session ends.

The decision confirms that the US Congress will not adopt legislation to combat climate change before the December 7-18 global climate change talks in Denmark's capital Copenhagen.

It also pushes what is likely to be a bitter debate to a mid-term election year, potentially making it harder to corral some of the swing-vote Senators needed to ensure passage of the bill.

The US House bill calls for cutting US greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050. The Senate's slightly more ambitious bill calls for a 20-percent cut by 2020.

Both bills would create a cap-and-trade regime, the government would set the total level of domestic emissions allowable and then allocate quotas to companies.

Firms that emit less than their quota would be allowed to sell their surplus allocation to others that exceed theirs. Those in excess could also face fines.

The Senate text -- which is likely to change considerably before a final vote -- also makes a push for nuclear energy research and training, and promotes natural gas as a clean energy source.

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