Sanders says global warming bill ignores wind, solar

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(Host) A Senate subcommittee will decide today whether a landmark bill aimed at curbing global warming will sink or move forward.

Senator Bernie Sanders will cast one of the crucial votes. But before that, he’s trying to plug what he calls loopholes in the bill.

Matt Laslo reports from Capitol Hill.

(Laslo) The legislation would make carbon emissions costly to companies. For the next forty years, they would have to buy permits to pollute from the federal government. Half the revenue from the sales would fund clean energy and energy-saving technologies.

But some environmentalists say those subsidies are thinly-veiled giveaways to polluters.

According to a group called Friends of the Earth, the coal industry would receive more than three-million-dollars to find ways to capture emissions from burning coal.

Independent Senator Sanders says that’s not acceptable.

(Sanders) "It essentially says that the future direction that we are going in terms of global warming is going to be based on clean coal. I think that’s a huge mistake to put all of your eggs in one basket. Meanwhile there’s not one word in there earmarked for wind or for solar."

(Laslo) So Sanders is introducing an amendment to make sure that wind and solar power would get the same benefits as coal.

He also wants to strip all subsidies for automakers. The current bill would hand them more than two hundred billion dollars to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. Sanders points out that the car industry has resisted efforts to enhance fuel efficiency for years.

(Sanders) "Just to give these people under the hope that maybe they’ll do something without any strong language demanding they do that, that’s called corporate welfare from where I come from." 

(Laslo) The bill may pass the seven-member panel without Sanders’ support. But the Senator says he’ll fight at every step to make the regulations on emissions stronger.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Matt Laslo on Capitol Hill.

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