House passes climate bill as Obama calls on Senate to follow suit News
House passes climate bill as Obama calls on Senate to follow suit

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] on Friday passed a climate bill [HR 2454 materials] that focuses on clean energy. In his weekly address Friday evening, US President Barack Obama [official profile] praised the bill's passage in the House and encouraged the Senate [official website] to follow suit. Obama spoke of the energy bill in terms of economic leadership and job creation, and said the bill addressed past concerns over real costs to consumers in affordable terms. Obama characterized the legislation as one that:

will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. That will lead to the creation of new businesses and entire new industries. And that will lead to American jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced. I have often talked about the need to build a new foundation for economic growth so that we do not return to the endless cycle of bubble and bust that led us to this recession.

The "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" passed on Friday in the House on a narrow 219-212 vote, and will need 60 votes in the Senate to become law. Senators from mid-western states have expressed reluctance based on fear that the bill will disproportionately affect their local economies. The bill calls for a reduction in greenhouse emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050 by establishing a cap-and-trade system. The bill establishes for the first time limits on greenhouse gases that will become progressively stricter, providing an incentive for a transition to green energy sources ranging from "wind, solar, and geothermal power to safer nuclear energy and cleaner coal."

The Obama administration has taken on several other environmental initiatives. In May, the administration announced plans [press release; JURIST report] for national fuel efficiency requirements. The policy announcement also carefully addressed consumer fears of increased costs for vehicles, while garnering support from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. An Environmental Protection Agency [official website] report in April concluded [report, PDF; JURIST report] that atmospheric greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, setting the stage for government regulation for the first time. In March, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change announced [JURIST report] at a UN Convention on climate change that the US is committed to the creation of an international treaty designed to combat global warming, but that such efforts would only succeed if they were economically feasible.