Energy Policy and Climate Change
The energy and climate bill, intended to deal with global warming and other energy issues, remains stalled in the Senate as the 2010 elections near. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April briefly seemed likely to spur movement on the issue. But President Obama’s six-month moratorium on offshore drilling (struck down by a federal judge) only complicated the debate. The biggest sticking point for the energy bill is the controversial cap-and-trade concept, aimed at limiting the amount of greenhouse gases produced. Under cap-and-trade, which conservatives argue would amount to a back-door energy tax, the government would cap the amount of greenhouse gases each company is allowed to permit. At the same time, companies that produced less than their limit would be able to sell unused allowances to companies that have surpassed theirs. It was an important component of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which the House passed in 2009 and was sponsored by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Edward Markey. Two separate bipartisan groups of senators—one including John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham, the other consisting of Susan Collins and Maria Cantwell—tried to stitch together compromise legislation that would pass that chamber. But the efforts lost momentum in an election year with a crowded congressional calendar.
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