Senate Committee Begins Climate Hearings

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday began hearings on limiting greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

The committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), will oversee legislation mirroring the the Waxman-Markey bill passed by the House of Representatives at the end of June.

"Today’s hearing is the kickoff of a historic Senate effort to pass legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create millions of renewable energy jobs, and protect our children from pollution," Boxer said.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he wants to combine the energy legislation passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June with a cap-and-trade bill to be crafted by Boxer’s committee.

According to reports, Boxer wants her committee to finish work on a bill before the month-long congressional recess that begins in early August. Other committees could add to the bill by September 18, which is the deadline set by Reid.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is the Ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and a vocal climate skeptic. He began his objectives Tuesday by sending a letter to Boxer requesting that hearings be held to discuss actual legislation.

Tuesday’s hearing featured cabinet-level representatives from the Obama administration testifying to the need for a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson both said the cost of such a program would amount to less than $1 a day for average American households.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said any climate change legislation needed to include carbon capture incentives for American farmers. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his agency, which is the largest U.S. land holder, is already observing the effects of climate change and that the bill passed by the House last month is "the right start."

Read further Reuters coverage at the link below.

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