US Congress Passes Historic Climate Change Bill
The United States Congress has passed the Climate Change Bill in a narrow 219-212 vote.
Hailing the bill passage,US President Barack Obama described it as "a bold and necessary step".
He looks forward to Senate action to send the bill to his desk "so that we can say,at long last,that this was the moment when we decided to confront America's energy challenge and reclaim America's future".
The gist of the bill is to reduce emission of gases via a cap-and-trade system that"sets a limit on overall emissions of heat-trapping gases" that cause climate warming globally.
The cap is to grow tighter raising the price of emissions and forcing industry to find new better and cleaner ways to produce and use energy.
It provides measurable cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.
It also spurs the transformation of the US economy into a new industrial revolution based on clean renewable alternative energy and lead the world in effective mitigation and adaptation to global climate change via the release of market forces,first in the United States and elsewhere in future.
It will give the United States the clout to lead in future climate negotiations like the forthcoming global climate change meeting scheduled in Copenhagen in December.
Named the American Energy and Security Act,the historic bill aims to create millions of "green jobs", transform the US economy into a new energy economy that promises better air quality and cleaner quality of life and spur investment in alernative,renewable clean energy technology to reduce the current US overdependence on carbon-based fossil fuels.
Obama,Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore lobbied hard for the bill passage with personal appeals to fence sitters.
Al Gore has stressed the bill as vital as the Civil Rights Act and the Marshall Plan.
Significantly, 44 Democrats voted against it.Only eight Republicans voted for it.These eight votes were vital to swing the passage.
Greenpeace,Friends of the Earth,the United States Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers were said to be against it.But big corporations like Ford and Dow Chemicals supported it.
The Republicans have criticized it as a "tax".
However, the bill sets a national standard for 20 percent of US production of renewable electricity by 2020 with more efficient measures like solar,wind and geothermal power.
It also allots billions of dollars for new energy projects like electric vehicle development,research on cleaner coal and low carbon agricultural subsidies.
The bill would force major polluters like power plants and factories to get permits for the pollution they produce, or offset them in tree-planting projects and other "carbon-scrubbing" methods.
Minutes before the vote.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,exhorting her colleagues to support it, says:
"Just remember these four words for what this legislation means - jobs,jobs,jobs,jobs.
"Let's vote for jobs."
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer(D-Md.) also weighs in stressing:"This is a moment to build a clean energy future for our country.
"This is a moment to create jobs,This is a moment to take on,at long last,a defining challenge of our time: global warming," he adds.
The House environment committee chairwoman,Sen.Barbara Boxer(D-Calif.) says the bill "signals that when we promised change for the better in America, we meant it".
And President of the Environment Defence Fund Fred Kupp has welcomed the bill "as the most important environmental and energy legislation" in US history.
"A huge achievement," he applauds.
The monumental monster bill runs into more than 1,300 pages.
Earlier this month,the White House had made public an important report entitled Global Climate Change Impacts On The United States.
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