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Waxman Proposes Tough Climate Bill

Legislation would cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050

by Bette Hileman
June 26, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 26

On June 20, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that mandates much larger cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions than any other Capitol Hill proposal to date. Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) is expected to introduce similar legislation in the Senate in a few weeks.

Waxman's Safe Climate Act aims to set emissions targets that would keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 °F or 2 °C from today's temperatures. Emissions would be frozen in 2010 and after that reduced roughly 2% per year until 2020. After 2020, emissions would be cut by 5% per year. By 2050, theoretically, greenhouse gas releases would be 80% lower than in 1990.

Waxman says his bill takes a different approach from other climate proposals that have been aimed at attracting support from moderates and conservatives. "We can no longer ignore the evidence of global warming. My legislation reflects what the science says we need to do to protect our children and grandchildren from disastrous climate changes," he says.

Under the bill, emissions reductions would be achieved through a flexible, economy-wide, cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as measures to reduce emissions by way of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner cars.

"This is the only bill that will solve the problem," says Angela Anderson, director of Clear the Air, a national organization combating global warming. "It is the only bill introduced in Congress that outlines specifically how to slow, stop, and reverse the emissions of greenhouse gases."

Lobbyists for the energy industry have a different view. "Waxman's bill does nothing to address reductions in greenhouse gases," says Frank Maisano, an energy industry spokesman. "The reality is that new technologies, such as wind and clean-coal technologies, will be what gets us there."



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