Now that the stimulus bill has passed, Congress is moving on to more environment-specific legislation. According to a recent AP interview, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expects an energy bill to be ready for a vote within the next few weeks and a climate change bill to be ready by the end of the summer.
The upcoming energy bill will focus on renewable energy and efficiency and will most likely include a national energy standard requiring 20 percent of the energy generated by utilities to come from renewable sources by 2020. A national standard has been proposed before unsuccessfully, but now that several states have passed their own mandates, it's likely to have a better shot this time around.
The senator also expects more tax incentives for energy efficiency, particularly in the construction and retro-fitting of buildings, to be included in the bill.
The climate change bill will concern actions necessary to slow down global warming and will most likely be put to a vote before the international climate negotiations happening in Copenhagen in December. The climate change bill is expected to be more controversial and involve topics like CO2 emission caps.
So far, it seems the new administration is keeping its promise to act quickly on energy and environmental issues. We'll be keeping close tabs on what comes of these bills and keeping our fingers crossed for effective legislation.
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