Eleven of the 12 Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have voted in favor of a "cap-and-trade' bill to reduce U.S. greenhouse gasses. Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., voted against the legislation. He said he couldn't support a plan to cut greenhouse gases 20% by 2020. He said that target should be changed to a 17% cut with a "trigger" to toughen the target to 20% if other countries play by the same rules.
The cap and trade proposal would have the federal government issuing a limited number of pollution permits, each carrying the right to emit one metric ton of carbon dioxide. Power plants, refineries and other regulated industrial companies would have to acquire enough permits to cover their emissions. Firms could buy and sell the permits before they are surrendered to the EPA to enforce emission targets.
The legislation passed during a "business meeting' session of the committee. While admitting this is not a procedure we wanted, Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said it may complicate efforts to pass climate legislation in the Senate. She said, "It's a procedure that was available to us. It was available to our predecessors. That was why they wrote it. We need to move."