U.S. Must Lead Way in Clean Energy Technology, Agency Heads Say

Agency heads tell Congress U.S. needs to lead the way, push climate bill.

ByABC News
October 28, 2009, 8:20 AM

Oct. 28, 2009— -- Backers of a sweeping energy and environmental bill are hoping to inject new momentum into a stalled effort to cap carbon emissions, with a major push timed around extensive hearings this week on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held the first legislative hearing of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Over the next few days, 54 witnesses on nine separate panels will testify before the committee, and proponents of the bill are hoping that skeptics will change their minds.

Otherwise known as the Kerry-Boxer bill -- the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House this summer -- the legislation aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a cap and trade system.

But the system has its critics. Proponents argue that for 22 to 30 cents a day per household, Americans will be in charge of their energy future and reduce dependence on foreign oil, but opponents counter that the bill will increase taxes and do little to avert climate change.

On Tuesday, The Environment and Public Works Committee heard statements from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, and head of the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, all of whom pushed for swift legislation.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has signaled its support for a cleaner energy future, announcing billions of dollars in stimulus funding for renewable energy projects, and advocating climate change legislation.

President Obama was even praised for his work in combating global climate change when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month.