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 September 01, 2009
US climate change bill faces fresh delays

 As Obama preps energy policy, Senate confirms latest version of Waxman-Markey not expected until late September

The Obama Administration has reportedly been meeting with clean tech executives to help flesh out a new energy strategy to be unveiled later this month.

The unveiling of the energy strategy, which is expected to coincide with a high-level UN meeting on climate change to be held in New York, will punctuate a set of increasingly bold moves on the part of the Obama administration intended to secure support for the proposed Waxman-Markey climate change bill as it awaits a crucial Senate vote.

However, that vote now looks set to face further delays after Senate Democrats announced yesterday that the latest version of the legislation would not be unveiled until "later in September".

A Senate vote on the bill, which had originally been passed by the House of Representatives back in June, was originally expected back in July only to see it delayed until early September.

The latest delays were attributed to the on-going row over President Obama's healthcare reforms and continued opposition to the bill from some Democrat Senators who have demanded concessions designed to support carbon intensive US industries.

Critics said that any further delays would seriously undermine the US position at forthcoming international climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he fully expected the Senate to have "ample time to consider this comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation before the end of the year".

There was better news, however, for the proposed bill after a Washington-Post ABC news poll of over 1,000 adults which found that 57 per cent support the President's handling of energy policy.

Moreover, 58 per cent of respondents said they would support an emissions cap-and-trade scheme if it only results in modest increases in energy bills of $10 a month, while only 15 per cent agreed with repeated Republican claims that the bill would kill off jobs.

There was also a ringing endorsement for the President's energy efficiency measures, with over 80 per cent supporting legal requirements for car manufacturers to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and over 70 per cent supporting federal requirements to conserve commercial and domestic energy use.

The results will be welcomed by supporters of the bill who have been engaged in an increasingly fraught battle with lobby groups opposed to the legislation, several of whom have been accused of engaging in underhand tactics designed to exaggerate the scale of opposition to the bill.

Danny Bradbury and James Murray, BusinessGreen