WASHINGTON, June 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. House voted 219-212 to pass a bill intended to curb greenhouse gas emissions and move energy consumption from fossil fuels to more efficient sources.
The bill -- which supporters said was crafted to limit greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy technology and create jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas -- included the controversial cap-and-trade system, which would require polluters to accrue credits through buying and selling for all the greenhouse gases they produce. The cap-and-trade system would help reduce emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, supporters said.
The legislation is a critical piece of President Barack Obama's agenda. Administration officials phoned still-uncommitted lawmakers and Obama used several public appearances to push for the measure's passage
Eight Republicans voted yes and 44 Democrats voted against the measure. Democrats won a critical vote earlier Friday to move the bill along, garnering enough votes to limit debate to three hours.
The bill's provisions, including cap-and-trade, have created fissures among Democrats between representatives from coastal states and lawmakers from the Rust Belt and farm states, The Washington Post said. Those from the coasts tend to support a hard cap while others are concerned the bill would add new costs to electric power and gasoline.
House Republicans generally oppose the legislation, saying it would raise prices for utilities and gasoline, and lead to jobs being shipped overseas.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said climate change legislation could be considered this fall.
Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the organization was "thrilled that Congress has finally caught up with science and the American people in recognizing the need to switch on clean energy."
"This vote was a major hurdle, and we've cleared it," Knobloch said in a statement. "President Obama can walk into the (Group of 8) summit of world leaders in Italy next week with his head held high. Now we have momentum to move and improve legislation in the Senate and put it on President Obama's desk so he can go to December's international summit in Copenhagen with the full backing of the Congress and the American people."