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US Lawmakers Spar on Climate Change

There are deep differences over the right approach to global warming

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to head to Copenhagen and the international climate change conference, members of Congress are weighing in with advice.   There are deep differences over the right approach to global warming.

On a Sunday when the climate conference officially was on a break, the debate raged on in the United States.

On the Fox News Sunday television program, opposing views came to the fore.

On the one side: James Inhofe, a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, and a staunch opponent of energy legislation making its way through Congress.  On the other:  Congressman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and co-author of the House version of the bill.

Inhofe was blunt, saying there is no way the president can pledge specific emission targets without approval from Congress. "The president can not do that.  The emission reductions he is talking about are what you find in Markey's bill.  And that is not going to happen," he said.

Inhofe has sworn to block the legislation Markey originally drafted in the House of Representatives from ever clearing the Senate and becoming law.

The measure includes complex formulas to encourage companies to cut emissions - formulas that conservatives like Inhofe believe would damage the U.S. economy and cost American jobs.

Markey says the legislation is long overdue and necessary to cut the emissions believed responsible for global warming.   He said President Obama has the authority to make commitments in Copenhagen.

Markey predicted an acceptable compromise will emerge in the Senate.  He says the Environmental Protection Agency can take action on its own to cut emissions. "It is no longer a question of legislation or no legislation.  It is now a question of legislation or regulation.  The EPA can act," he said.

Markey also defended the president's right to offer aid to developing countries to help them shift away from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.  He said steps must and will be taken to make sure the money is spent wisely. "We will have to have very strong verification procedures that are put in place in order to make sure that this money is being spent in order to protect against dangerous global warming," he said.

Markey predicted the president will announce in Copenhagen the United States will provide $3-billion in assistance to developing countries to help combat climate change.  But administration officials indicate Mr. Obama may not put forward a specific figure for U.S. aid, and may instead focus on a group effort by developed countries to provide short-term assistance.

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