After being a point of focus on the Capitol Hill agenda for most of 2007, climate change legislation looks like it will continue to be a top priority in both the U.S. House and Senate during 2008, according to speakers at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' (NARUC) annual Winter Committee Meetings in Washington, DC, last Tuesday.

In closing out 2007, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted out legislation (S 2191) sponsored by Sens. John Warner (R-VA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) that seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 19% below the 2005 level in 2020 and by as much as 63% below the 2005 level in 2050 (see NGI, Dec. 10, 2007). It was too late to see floor action in 2007.

Looking at the Senate's timeline on the legislation for 2008, Alex Barron, an aide to Lieberman, told NGI at Tuesday's meeting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) hope to bring up climate change legislation on the Senate floor in May. As to whether the bill will receive bipartisan support, Barron said, "We're actively working on that."

On the House side, Susan Sheridan of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said climate change is "our focus" this year and that the committee will introduce its own version of the bill "as soon as we can." She said the House bill would call for a 60-80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Sheridan added that the bill would also need some assurances that developing countries plan to cap their emissions as well.

David McCarthy, a spokesman for Joe Barton (R-TX), the leading Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, "Congress is unlikely to launch into a U.S.-go-it-alone" venture without support from developing countries to also reduce their emissions.

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