Washington (AFP) June 20, 2010
US President Barack Obama is committed to an energy bill that reduces carbon emissions, his top aide said Sunday, ahead of a key meeting with Republicans to break down obstacles to the legislation.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Obama wanted the Senate to "pass a comprehensive energy bill that... deals fundamentally with the environmental degradation that happens from carbon pollution."
Emanuel noted that the House of Representatives has already approved a bill that includes the "cap-and-trade" system, under which companies buy rights to emit greenhouse gases from firms that use less energy and pollute less.
How to address with carbon emissions is the major sticking point in the legislation as Republicans reject the idea of any kind of carbon tax.
Obama, who has tried to harness anger over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to forge what he called a new "national mission" on clean energy, has called a bipartisan meeting to discuss the climate legislation on Wednesday.
Emmanuel told ABC television the president was committed to a bill that "reduces our dependence on foreign oil" and "makes key investments in the areas of alternative energy so America leads in that space."
US industrial concerns, including utility companies, have been pushing for the government to give away some of the permits, rather than charging for them in an auction, so as to ease the transition to cap-and-trade.
Obama argues that with the future of the planet at stake, the United States must now take the lead on global warming after years of denial under the administration of former president George W. Bush.
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