Democrats push for votes on climate bill
WASHINGTON (AP)--Democrats scrambled for votes June 25 on a climate bill that would for the first time limit the pollution blamed for global warming as the White House stepped up pressure on reluctant lawmakers and former Vice President Al Gore tried to stave off any defections.
President Barack Obama, in a planned White House Rose Garden appearance, was expected to argue that the legislation will create new "green'' energy jobs and help wean the nation away from foreign oil.
Republicans have argued for weeks that the climate legislation amounts to a massive energy tax because it will force higher prices on electricity, gasoline and other energy sources as the economy shifts from cheaper fossil fuels, or companies and utilities are forced to buy pollution allowances.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, has scheduled a vote on the bill for June 26. While Democratic support has been growing, she is still believed to be short of the votes needed to get the bill through.
The Senate, meanwhile, is waiting for the House to act. Approval of a climate bill in the Senate has been viewed as a long shot because it will require 60 votes to overcome a certain filibuster. And that has made a decision by some House Democrats to vote for the politically charged bill even harder.
The legislation would require the country to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and about 80 percent by the next century. To do that, electricity producers and industrial plants will have to make a dramatic shift away from the use of fossil fuels through increased efficiency, move toward greater use of renewable energy, or pay for ways to capture carbon emissions.
Democrats have sought to limit the economic impact by making available pollution allowances to utilities and energy-intensive industries. But some Democratic lawmakers, from regions where utilities and factories rely heavily on coal, remain worried about higher energy prices and the impact that might have on voters.
Other Democrats have complained too many concessions have been made to garner broader support, weakening the bill's impact on combatting the climate problem. Gore, the leading American voice on climate change, was making phone calls from his home in Tennessee to shore up support among those lawmakers as well as others.
"This is historic legislation,'' Pelosi said at a news conference June 24. "You want to have a good, strong committed vote.''