The US Senate has started a raucous debate over climate change legislation even though it will put supporters of the bill, including all three presidential candidates, on the spot — essentially forcing them to come out in favor of high energy costs at a time when American consumers are paying record fuel prices.
The bill is a revision of a plan proposed last year by Mr. Warner and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. It would reduce American production of greenhouse gases by nearly 70 percent from current levels by 2050 and would provide billions of dollars in subsidies for energy conservation and clean technologies.
The debate could last all week. Yesterday, Senators voted 74 to 14 in favor of the first of several procedural steps needed to bring the bill to the Senate floor. Thirteen Republicans, including the minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted in opposition as did one Democrat, Robert C. Byrd, from the coal-producing state of West Virginia.
“There were a lot of voices saying, ‘Why do this now? Why do we have to do this now?’” The bill’s chief promoter, Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat of California said, opening the Democrats’ argument. “Because it is, in fact, one of the greatest challenges of our generation and we have to respond with a landmark bill, and it will take us awhile and we must get started.”
“There’s a great feeling all across America by people in small villages and towns to large cities to state legislatures and others: we must move and move now,” added Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia and a co-sponsor of the bill. “Do something. Doing nothing is not an option. Let us do something.”