Most environmental groups welcomed the legislation's introduction. "It's the starting gun in the Senate in a race that you can't afford to lose," said David Moulton, a former House aide to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) now working at the Wilderness Society.
But Greenpeace USA's climate director, Damon Moglen, questioned the bill's strength.
"While the language the Senate unveiled today contains some improvements over the House bill, it fails to commit the U.S. to meaningful, science-based greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to protect us from runaway climate change," Moglen said. "This proposal meets neither the needs of science nor those of the international community, which is currently negotiating the landmark climate treaty."
Senate sponsors insist that their emission targets, which are more aggressive than the 17 percent limit in the House bill, would be easier to meet because of the recent economic meltdown that has already led to lower emissions. Sanders, the Vermont senator, said during today's rally that he wants to strengthen the near-term emission targets.
The bill's emissions offset strategy also differs from the House-passed measure.
The Senate plan would states that three-fourths of the 2 billion tons of the annual offsets available to polluters would come from domestic projects and one-fourth from international efforts.
The House plan divided them evenly. An aide to Boxer said the higher domestic share in the Senate plan would help keep more investments in the United States.
Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500