A key U.S. congressional committee has approved historic legislation that for the first time would put a cap and a price on carbon dioxide emissions. After weeks of debate and an intensive, multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by industry and environmental groups, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill calling for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020 and an 83 percent reduction by 2050.
The bill passed by a 33 to 25 vote, largely along party lines, and the legislation now faces many hurdles — including debate by several other committees — before it will be considered by the full House and Senate later this year. Opposition to the bill from conservative Democrats and nearly all Republicans was so strong that, in order to win committee approval, Chairman Henry Waxman agreed to initially give away 85 percent of permits to emit carbon dioxide; President Obama had called for auctioning all permits. The 1,000-page bill, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act,” sets a declining cap on national carbon emissions that will eventually require all major sources of fossil fuels to purchase permits to emit CO2. The bill also calls for 15 percent of the country’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.
This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360 at http://e360.yale.edu