Democrats unveil climate plan

WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday proposed cutting greenhouse gases by one-fifth over the next decade, a faster clip than urged by President Barack Obama.

Their plan, seen as the first step toward Congress enacting climate legislation this year, was crafted to attract broader support among centrist Democrats.

It includes measures to spur energy efficiency and to support technology to capture carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, from coal-burning power plants.

The 600-page “discussion draft” will be the basis for climate debates in the coming weeks as the House Energy and Commerce Committee works to craft a bill by mid-May.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she would like to get a climate bill passed before Congress departs for its summer recess in August.

The measure offered Tuesday by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts calls for reducing greenhouse gases by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by mid-century.

Obama has urged similar long-term reductions, but has proposed more modest early cuts with reductions of 14 percent by 2020.

Among other provisions in the proposal:

A nationwide mandate for renewable energy — such as wind, solar and biomass — in electric power generation, starting at 6 percent in 2012 and rising to 25 percent by 2025.

A mechanism for emitters to buy offsets, a sort of emissions credit that comes from spending money to reduce emissions outside the scope of the cap-and-trade system.

A national standard limiting carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles and a new low-carbon fuel standard to further support biofuels and low-emission alternatives to gasoline.

Support for carbon-capture and storage technology, which, if perfected, would remove the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and store them underground.

New mandates for energy efficiency in appliances, lighting, vehicles and buildings.

A variety of measures supporting “green jobs,” including worker training.

Rebates for manufacturers hit hard by additional energy costs imposed by the bill.

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