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Lawmakers Struggle to Agree on Plan for Emissions Cuts, Energy Policy

A new climate bill on Capitol Hill aims to reduce carbon emissions by creating a hotly-debated carbon cap-and-trade system. Senators on both sides of the debate weigh the pros and cons of instituting such a system and how it could impact energy and environmental policy.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The most significant legislative effort so far to tackle climate change began winding its way through Congress today. The Senate agreed to begin a week-long debate on a bipartisan bill forcing a major cut in U.S. emissions.

    The bill would impose new regulations on industry to lower overall emissions to the 2005 level by the year 2020. By the middle of this century, the bill would require greenhouse gases to be cut by 66 percent.

    SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), California: This comprehensive bill is long overdue.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The bill's major tool for enforcing the cuts is also the biggest obstacle to passage. It's what's called a cap-and-trade system, allowing companies to continue releasing greenhouse gases into the environment, provided they buy the right to do so in the form of carbon credits.

    Some credits would be granted to companies, but a percentage of other credits would be sold at auction.

    SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), Maryland: This bill is important for an energy policy for America for security. It's important for an energy policy for America for our economy. Look at the price of gasoline at the pump. And it's critically important for our environment.

  • TELEVISION AD NARRATOR:

    Congress is at it again. This time, they're pushing massive new taxes and regulations in the name of global warming.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    For months, both sides have been drawing battle lines around the Climate Security Act and are taking their fight to the airwaves. Opponents say the bill will lead to a spike in energy prices, among other economic costs. The bill's supporters say it will spur new energy innovations.

  • TELEVISION AD NARRATOR:

    Some in big oil and coal will do anything to drive this bill into the ground.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Today, White House officials made it clear the president would veto the bill. And the president criticized it in remarks he made this morning.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: You know, there's a much better way to address the environment than imposing these costs on the job creators, which will ultimately have to be borne by American consumers.

    And I urge the Congress to be very careful about running up enormous costs for future generations of Americans. We'll work with the Congress, but the idea of a huge spending bill fueled by taxes increases isn't the right way to proceed.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Most observers see the fight as a pivotal moment in the climate change debate, one that might forecast a new direction after the election. All three presidential candidates have proposed mandatory curbs on emissions.

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