U.S. President Barack Obama scored a major victory yesterday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to slash industrial pollution that is blamed for global warming.
The Democratic-controlled House passed the climate-change bill, a priority for Mr. Obama, by a vote of 219-212. As has become routine on major bills in Congress this year, the vote was partisan, with only eight Republicans joining Democrats for the bill. Forty-four Democrats voted against it.
Climate-change legislation still must get through the Senate. Senators were expected to try to write their own version but prospects for this year were uncertain.
After the House vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped the Senate can pass a bill "this fall."
The bill requires that large U.S. companies, including utilities, oil refiners and manufacturers, reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17 per cent by 2020 and 83 per cent by 2050, from 2005 levels.
They would do so by phasing in the use of cleaner alternative energy than high-polluting oil and coal.
At the core of the bill, which is about 1,500 pages long, is a cap-and-trade program designed to achieve the emissions reductions by industry.
Under the plan, the government would issue a declining number of pollution permits to companies, which could sell those permits to each other as needed.
Mr. Obama praised the House for taking "historic action" and urged the Senate to act.
"It's a bold and necessary step that holds the promise of creating new industries and millions of new jobs, decreasing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil," he said.
With the House action, Mr. Obama will be able to tout significant progress toward tackling global warming after years of foreign countries criticizing Washington for not participating in international efforts.