Climate change has been a hot topic among Washington lawmakers during the early days of the new Congress. On 12 January 2007 Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), joined by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL), introduced S. 280, legislation to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2050. The plan would provide for a 2 percent reduction per year. On 16 January Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced legislation (S. 309) that would freeze greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 and reduce emissions annually to achieve a 2050 level that is 83 percent below current levels. One day later, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined the debate when she announced plans, co-sponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), for legislation that would cut carbon dioxide emitted from power plants. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is currently circulating draft global warming legislation to environmental groups, businesses, and economists with plans to hold hearings later this month. All of these introduced or proposed Senate bills include some form of a free-market cap-and-trade program in which limits would be set on carbon dioxide emissions and companies could buy or sell emission allowances based on whether they exceed or fall below the set cap.

According to the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), global warming continues to be a priority issue as all House Democratic committee chairmen were informed last week that they need to produce legislation ready for the floor by June. Further, on 18 January, Pelosi announced plans to form a select committee on climate change comprised of members who serve on the nine different committees with jurisdiction over global warming. The new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will not have any legislative authority, but will be charged with advising and making recommendations on climate change bills proposed by various House committees. Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), chairman of the Telecommunications and the Internet subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is expected to lead the new committee.

President Bush is also expected to address global warming and U.S. climate change policy when he presents his State of the Union address on 23 January.

 


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