The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Clean Energy Jobs for American Power Act on Nov. 5th in a vote that its Republican members all but boycotted.
The only Republican that showed up to explain the reasons for their absence was Senator George Voinovich of Ohio. The GOP has demanded a deeper analysis than the one provided by the Environmental Protection Agency in order, Voinovich said, "to have the best information available as we debate and amend the bill that will have consequences for every person in the country."
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, one of the bill’s sponsors, has been criticized by the Republicans for moving ahead with the vote. But supporters such as activists from the Sierra Club called the legislation "an important step toward a clean energy economy," that will make the U.S. "more energy independent [and create] new jobs with safer, cleaner energy sources."
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83 percent by 2050. It also offers tradable permits to polluters that would ease their transition away from fossil fuels.
According to media reports, opponents of the bill are looking for a "Plan B" that would include more incentives for nuclear power, renewable fuels and domestic drilling to win support of moderate Democrats and Republicans.
GOP members have also said the Democrats’ proposal will impose a massive energy tax on consumers and businesses alike.