Climate change deal faces ‘million-dollar question’ in Congress

As originally published in the Houston Chronicle

By: James Osborne

March 10, 2020

WASHINGTON – Efforts to bridge the climate change divide between Republicans and Democrats are being put to the test.

Even as senators from both parties line up behind sweeping legislation that would commit hundreds of millions of dollars to reducing carbon emissions from the energy sector, competing bills in the House and pressure by special interest groups are threatening the fragile coalition.

The bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., would increase research funding for wind, solar and nuclear energy, along with carbon capture and energy storage technology, while also modernizing the power grid.

The bill was already bogging down amid partisan debate on the Senate floor Monday, and it’s unclear whether it can pass the House, where some Democrats are pushing for more aggressive action on climate change and some Republicans are questioning how much the legislation will cost.

“Can the House and Senate come together? That is the million-dollar question,” said Heather Reams, executive director of the nonprofit Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, which advocates for conservative approaches to climate change.

With scientists calling for the world to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, expanding federal funding for clean energy has become a rallying point for both parties.

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