Senate energy bill to encourage greenhouse gas reductions


By the OGJ Online Staff

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 1 -- Senate Democratic leaders hope to pass a comprehensive energy bill in early fall that will emphasize measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We've got to take action as a country. We need to do it unilaterally as well as multilaterally. This is an effort to try to leverage, in public policy, whatever chance there may be of doing that this year," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said Wednesday.

Democratic leaders have criticized the White House's decision to reject the Kyoto Protocol, the international greenhouse gas treaty now being fine-tuned by diplomats.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday began marking up the research and development component of a larger bill sponsored by Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Democratic leaders say they hope to have a bill that ties funds for increased research and development to progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The lead Republican on the committee, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.) said he is worried the bill in its current form could lead to mandatory controls on greenhouse gases that mimic Kyoto. Climate change remains a highly controversial issue.

The White House does not want to impose mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, saying it is not cost-effective. But it does support controlling other emissions such as mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants and refineries.

Meanwhile some Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alas.), the former chairman of the Appropriations committee, support the idea of controlling greenhouse gas emissions, if not Kyoto. And some conservative Democrats oppose greenhouse controls. However most Democrats and some moderate Republicans say they support legislation supporting controls on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

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