Draft U.S. climate legislation unveiled on Wednesday is only the opening salvo in what could be a long and difficult process to get a bill through the U.S. Senate.
Many details are missing, including how to distribute the free permits for polluters. Haggling lies ahead. The Obama administration will be hard-pressed to show progress battling climate change at global talks in Copenhagen in December.
As expected the legislation drew praise from environmental and labor groups but raised business concerns that the measure would hobble economic growth and cost jobs.
Reaction to the draft bill, sponsored by Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry, was similar to a response to a previous bill to limit carbon through a “cap and trade” system that was narrowly approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in late June.
Most U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council hailed the measure, saying the bill’s proposal to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 is a realistic and necessary goal.
Greenpeace said the bill falls short, satisfying neither the dictates of climate science nor the international community, which is negotiating a climate treaty to succeed the 1997 carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a prominent business lobby, has said it supports a U.S. law to cut carbon emissions but opposed the House-passed climate bill on grounds that it failed to put renewable and alternative technologies into the marketplace and ease transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Labor organizations including the United Steelworkers and the Service Employees Union International argued that the move to alternative and renewable energy would favor workers by creating jobs in the United States that could not be exported