Congress Ready to Tackle Global Warming

With Democrats settling into their leadership roles after taking control of both houses of Congress earlier this month, global warming seems to be the issue du jour on Capitol Hill. Last week, new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) kicked things off by proposing the creation of a special House committee to deal with human-induced climate change and produce a viable emissions reduction bill by mid-summer.

New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes on global warming.

"This is a really gutsy move by the speaker," said Phil Clapp, president of the nonprofit National Environmental Trust. He praised Pelosi for helping to build momentum to put in place a regulatory structure for reducing greenhouse gases. "Action on global warming is so urgent that the speaker has probably taken the only course that could produce a comprehensive bill before the 2008 elections swamp the political process," Clapp said.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, two presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama (D-IL) and Arizona John McCain (R-AZ), have collaborated with Connecticut’s Independent Senator and former Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman on a bill that aims to reduce annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds within a few decades. At this point it’s unclear when such a bill would be introduced, as it would surely face stiff opposition from the White House and industry.

The Senate’s new Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), is proposing a more modest global warming bill that would allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue rising until 2030, at which point they would start to be cut. "I am committed to developing bipartisan climate change legislation that can pass the Congress this year," Bingaman told reporters.

The very existence of new proposed legislation from Congress on climate change is a promising development as far as environmentalists are concerned. And with avowed global warming skeptic George W. Bush gone from the White House in 2008, some kind of progress seems possible.

SOURCES: Climate Bill Meets Congress; MSNBC