US Senate will not approve House cap-and-trade bill - API

15 September 2009 19:31  [Source: ICIS news]

Climate bill will not pass, says APIWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The cap-and-trade climate bill passed by the US House of Representatives in June has no chance of approval in the US Senate, a top energy industry official said on Tuesday.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), said popular opposition to the bill - HR-2454, the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act - is growing and an increasing number of senators of both parties have deep reservations about the House measure.

“I think the more the public understands about this climate bill, the more they are speaking up and having effect on their elected officials,” Gerard told a press conference.

He said the House climate change measure, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, “would not pass in the Senate”.

The bill was approved by the Democrat-led House of Representatives on 27 June with a close and largely partisan vote of 219-212. The measure needed 217 votes for passage, and eight Republicans joined 211 Democrats to approve it.

The ACES Act’s principal feature is a cap-and-trade mandate that would impose increasing limits or caps on US industrial emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG).  It also would sell emissions credits to manufacturers who could then trade the permits to other producers whose emissions exceed allowances.

The bill is widely opposed by US energy, refining, chemical and other manufacturing interests along with electric utilities. Chemical companies are generally opposed on grounds the measure would increase demand and prices for natural gas, a principal feedstock and energy fuel for the sector.

Gerard said API officials found considerable public opposition to the climate bill among those who attended 20 public rallies organised by the API and other industries across the country last month.

He said public turnout at the rallies was beyond expectations and overwhelmed some venues and included broad representation from farming communities and small business owners concerned about large energy cost increases, which analysts contend would result from the House bill.

Gerard said that growing public awareness of and opposition to cap-and-trade “is without question making changes on Capitol Hill”.

Noting that he spends considerable time meeting with members of Congress, Gerard said that “Waxman-Markey would not pass in the Senate, the votes would not be there to pass it”.

“In the Senate dynamic, senators of both parties - and especially conservative Democrats - have serious reservations about the House bill, its likely job losses and increased fuel costs,” Gerard said.

The Senate is expected to take up consideration of the House-passed climate bill this month. However, Congress is chiefly pre-occupied with legislation to reform the nation’s health care system, a major and controversial undertaking that is likely to delay action on other matters.

The Senate has only 16 workdays scheduled for the rest of this year, with adjournment tentatively set for 9 October. 

Democrat leaders in the Senate can and likely will extend this year’s legislative schedule, but observers speculate there is insufficient time left for the Senate to complete work this year on such a complex - 1,400 pages - and controversial measure as the climate bill.

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