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Obama team eyes cap-and-trade system

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The Obama administration is going ahead with plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions despite concerns it may slow an already-sluggish U.S. economy, experts say.

Under the proposed cap-and-trade initiative, the federal government would set limits on climate-altering carbon emissions by power plants, factories and other facilities. The system would allow entities that emit more carbon to buy or trade permits with companies and facilities that emitted less than the limit, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

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Critics say the cap-and-trade system would be tantamount to a tax, raising energy costs.

"The whole economic issue will be front and center in the debate on this ... on both sides," Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said.

The administration says restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions should be part of a two-pronged effort to boost renewable energy supplies.

The first prong is to invest in wind power, solar power and biofuels. The second is to help those forms of energy compete with cheaper fossil fuels by increasing fossil fuel costs.

"If we don't put a price on carbon," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said, "we'll never get these clean energy sources online."

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Boxer chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works committee.

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