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Senate Climate Change Bill Introduced, Minus Key GOP Support

The long-awaited Senate climate change and energy policy bill was finally introduced on Wednesday, minus the key Republican sponsor who dropped out in a last minute dispute with the other sponsors, John Kerry (D-Mass) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).

Once viewed as the best chance for climate change legislation this year because of its bi-partisan nature, the bill now faces "uncertain prospects," according to a New York Times report.

The bill seeks to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and by 83 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels. The targets match those in a House bill passed last year and those announced as an Obama administration goal. Unlike the House bill, the Senate version does not include an economywide carbon "cap and trade" program, although it does call for utilities and oil companies to obtain emission permits.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who had co-authored the bill, dropped out when the other sponsors decided to add hurdles to more on offshore drilling following the BP oil rig disaster. Graham also had been angered when Democrats said immigration reform would have a higher priority than the energy legislation.

While the Edison Electric Institute, which represents utilities, endorsed the bill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce withheld support, saying the measure could be too costly for business, the Times reported.

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Mary Swanton

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