Release: Senate Environment Committee Passes Landmark Climate Change Bill

WASHINGTON, November 5 – The Senate environment committee today overcame a Republican boycott and voted 11 to 1 for a sweeping climate bill that would cut greenhouse gases from power plants and factories by 83 percent by 2050.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the panel’s Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee, was an active participant in crafting the legislation.

More aggressive than a House-passed global warming bill, the Senate measure also calls for a 20 percent reduction by 2020 in emissions that cause climate change.

“It is insane that we import $350 billion worth of oil a year from foreign countries,” Sanders said. “Our challenge is to move toward energy independence and energy efficiency and sustainable energy by substantially reducing greenhouse emissions and, in the process, creating millions of good-paying jobs.”

Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) passed the bill without the help any Republican senators on her panel, a fact Sanders said he regretted. The bill will now be merged with legislation being written by other Senate panels.

Under the legislation, funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs is significantly increased. Another $1 billion would be provided in the first year, for example, to fund major utility-scale renewable energy projects such as solar thermal, wind, and biomass.

A low-emissions energy plan proposed by Sanders was included in the committee bill. It would provide resources to the U.S. Department of Transportation to map out electric vehicle recharging stations on roads and highways.

States that have been national leaders in energy efficiency, such as Vermont, would be eligible for increased state funding if they continue to be energy efficient.

Small rural cooperatives and public power customers would receive more consumer assistance to help with their energy bills. Farmers and forest land owners will receive incentives to manage their land in a way that reduces or avoids greenhouse gas emissions.

The measure also includes a new program to provide financial assistance to replace old and inefficient wood stoves with newer, cleaner units. 

For more information on provisions Sanders supported in the legislation, click here.