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US House passes historic climate change bill

By a 219-212 margin, lawmakers voted for the first time in US history to limit heat-trapping carbon emissions and shift the US economy to cleaner energy in a move backers said will create jobs and restore Washington’s shaky leadership on climate change ahead of global talks set for December.

南宁桑拿

The pitched political battle over a central plank of Obama’s platform now shifts to the US Senate, where the prospects for action this year are uncertain and where outspoken foes of the House approach wield considerable clout. In his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama urged senators to pass the clean energy bill, calling it “a historic piece of legislation that will open the door to a clean energy economy and a better future for America.” The president asked the senators not to be afraid of the future or be prisoners of the past. “Don’t believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth,” he argued. “It’s just not true.” The “American Clean Energy and Security Act” aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050, create “green” jobs, and wean the US economy from oil imports. Day-long debate The bitter, day-long debate pitted supporters who argued the bill would put a shine back on the battered US economy and foes who described the measure’s more than 1,200 pages as a grim recipe for long unemployment lines. “Just remember these four words for what this legislation means — jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Let’s vote for jobs,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exhorted her colleagues minutes before the vote. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner warned the measure would send energy costs skyrocketing and denounced it as “the biggest job-killing bill that has ever been on the floor of the House.” Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the House’s “courageous step” but warned “the bill is not perfect” while vowing to “pass bipartisan and comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this fall.” Environmentalists were elated. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, the biggest US environmental group, said that Congress had now taken the first step toward “unleashing a true clean energy revolution.” ‘Cap and trade’ system The bill, the fruit of months of tough negotiations, would create a “cap-and-trade” system limiting overall pollution from large industrial sources and then allocating and selling pollution permits. The Democratic-crafted bill would require utilities, by 2020, to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources – solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass – and show annual energy savings of five percent from efficiency measures. The European Union plan calls for getting 20 percent of all electricity from renewable resources by 2020. Obama, who spent part of the day courting wavering lawmakers, said as he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel hours before the vote that he hoped the United States was reasserting its role after letting Europe lead for years. “The United States, over the last several years, has not been where we need to be. We’re not going to get there all in one fell swoop, but I’m very proud of the progress that’s being made,” he told Merkel at the White House. Vow to working with rising economies Obama also vowed to work with rising economies that are also major polluters, like China and India, amid worries that the bill may hamstring the US economy and send jobs fleeing to countries that lack similar restrictions. “India and China will not shatter their own economies with this sort of scheme, and its nonsensical for America to impose a job killer like this on ourselves,” said the number two House Republican, Representative Eric Cantor. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that implementing the legislation would cost 80-111 dollars per US household per year, while the Congressional Budget Office says it would run about 175 dollars.

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