WASHINGTON - Hailing the House, President Barack Obamaputpressure on senators Saturday to follow its lead and passlegislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, helping usher theU.S. into a new age of energy efficiency.
"Now my call to every senator, as well as to every American, isthis: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not beprisoners of the past," the president said in his weekly radio andInternet address. "Don't believe the misinformation out there thatsuggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing inclean energy and economic growth. It's just not true."
The legislation, which the House narrowly approved Friday night,would place the first national limits on emissions of greenhousegases from major sources -- such as power plants, factories and oilrefineries -- to reduce the gases linked to global climate change.It would also start moving the U.S. away from fossil fuels andtoward cleaner power sources, such as geothermal, wind, solar andmore nuclear generators.
The potential impact on people's daily lives is great. If theproposal, which faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, were tobecome law, it could make it more expensive for people to heat,cool and light their homes; mean more smaller, fuel efficient andhybrid electric cars; and create more "green" jobs, orenvironmentally friendly ones. Windmills and solar panels mightreplace smokestacks.
The complex bill, would require the U.S. to reduce carbondioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by midcentury.
Opponents complain about the costs and say some industries willsimply move their operations and jobs out of the U.S. to countriesthat don't control greenhouse-gas emissions.
House Democratic leaders said the bill helped accomplish one ofObama's campaign promises and would make the U.S. a leader ininternational efforts to address climate change when negotiationstake place in Denmark this year.
Success will be tougher in the Senate. Majority Leader HarryReid says he wants to take up the legislation by the fall. Sixtyvotes will be needed to overcome any Republican filibuster.
The "razor-thin vote in the House spells doom in the Senate,"said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
The White House and congressional Democrats argued the billwould create millions of green jobs as the nation shifts to greaterreliance on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar anddevelopment of more fuel-efficient vehicles -- and away from use offossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.
Republicans saw it differently.
This "amounts to the largest tax increase in American historyunder the guise of climate change," declared Rep. Mike Pence,R-Ind.
In the Republicans' weekly radio and Internet address, House GOPleader John Boehner of Ohio said, "By imposing a tax on everyAmerican who drives a car or flips on a light switch, this planwill drive up the prices for food, gasoline and electricity."
But Obama said the measure would cost the average American aboutthe price of a postage stamp per day.