WASHINGTON — Democratic senators on Wednesday unveiled their version of legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gases, saying it was time for the nation to change the way it uses energy.
"Global warming is our challenge,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "Economic recovery is our challenge. American leadership is our challenge.” Sponsors of the legislation appeared at a rally on the grounds of the Capitol, as rock music played in the background and cheering supporters waved signs. But the celebration was for a bill that has many details yet to be resolved. Like the House climate change bill that passed last summer, the Senate version envisions a cap-and-trade system for curbing carbon emissions and forcing more use of alternative energy sources. But the bill doesn’t specify how the carbon credits would be allotted and priced. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the primary author of the bill, pledged that it would exclude all farmers and 98 percent of small businesses from the proposed regulations. Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe has fought climate legislation for years. He said Wednesday that Kerry and Boxer had produced "yet another massive energy tax that will destroy jobs, raise electricity and gasoline prices and make America less competitive. What’s more, this bill is even worse than the energy tax passed in the House. The sponsors know this, so the bill is lacking in key details — an attempt, no doubt, to hide the central fact (that) this is an energy tax that will affect every American.” The Senate bill sets a more ambitious timetable for reducing greenhouse gas emissions than the House bill.