House OKs Obama climate bill Sweeping legislation to put controls on emissions Price rises, job losses predicted by opponentsStaff Writer
June 27, 2009
WASHINGTON - In a triumph for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House narrowly passed sweeping legislation Friday that calls for the nation's first limits on pollution linked to global warming and aims to usher in a new era of cleaner, yet more costly energy.
The vote was 219-212, capping months of negotiations and days of intense bargaining among Democrats. Republicans were overwhelmingly against the measure, arguing it would destroy jobs in the midst of a recession while burdening consumers with a new tax in the form of higher energy costs.
At the White House, Obama said the bill would create jobs, and added that with its vote, the House had put America on a path toward "creating a 21st century global economy." The vote fulfilled Speaker Nancy Pelosi's vow to clear major energy legislation before July 4.
It also sent the measure to a highly uncertain fate in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was "hopeful" that the Senate will be able to pass comprehensive legislation "this fall."
The legislation would require the United States to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by midcentury. That was slightly more aggressive than Obama originally wanted, 14 percent by 2020 and the same 80 percent by midcentury. U.S. emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are rising at about 1 percent a year and are predicted to continue increasing without mandatory limits.
Supporters and opponents agreed the result would be higher energy costs but disagreed vigorously on the impact on consumers.
Democrats pointed to two reports - one from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the other from the Environmental Protection Agency - that suggested average increases would be limited after tax credits and rebates were taken into account. The CBO estimated the cost to an average household at $175 a year, the EPA $80 to $110, but Republicans and industry groups said the real figure would much higher.
The White House and congressional Democrats say the bill would create millions of "green jobs" eventually.
Where the Long Island delegation sided on climate control measure:
Yes: Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights), Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola)
No: Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford)