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House, EPA to tackle climate policy alternatives
Updated 5/18/2009 10:15 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress and the Obama administration have two options when it comes to global warming: write a new law to deal with it or use existing ones to do the job.

Both approaches await scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators Monday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee planned to begin work on legislation that, for the first time, would limit the emissions blamed for global warming.

"It is clear that the choice is no longer between doing something and doing nothing to curb greenhouse gas pollution. It is a choice between regulation and legislation," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., "We believe that the bill we have crafted in the Energy and Commerce Committee ... protects consumers and provides businesses with the certainty they need to adapt to our clean energy future."

Across the Potomac River in Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency scheduled a public hearing on a proposal that could lead to regulating six greenhouse gases under existing law.

Which proposal will ultimately win out depends mostly on Congress. The House bill would largely pre-empt the EPA from forcing industries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Instead, it writes a new chapter that would put a price on each ton of pollution and allow industry to decide how to meet increasingly more stringent targets.

The bill also requires more electricity to be generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

President Obama has made it clear that he prefers new legislation to cope with the problem.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, the president called the bill "a plan that will finally reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and cap the carbon pollution that threatens our health and our climate."

And EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at a hearing last week told lawmakers that the EPA finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and welfare would not necessarily lead to regulation. She said the agency was compelled to weigh in on the threat posed by greenhouse gases after a 2007 Supreme Court ruling found them to be air pollutants.

Dozens of people are signed up to testify at the EPA hearing, including environmentalists, scientists, religious leaders and climate change skeptics.

The House Energy committee wants to complete work and vote on the climate and energy bill by the end of the week. But Republicans concerned that the 932-page proposal will drive up energy prices and harm the economy are expected to drag out the proceedings by offering hundreds of amendments.

The bill is H.R. 2454.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted 5/18/2009 10:12 AM ET
Updated 5/18/2009 10:15 AM ET