Washington The Obama administration warned on Tuesday that the U.S. could slip further behind China and other countries in clean energy development if Congress fails to pass climate legislation, as early signs of a rift emerged among Democrats over the bill’s costs.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate panel that the U.S. has stumbled in the clean energy race and to catch up Congress must enact comprehensive energy legislation that puts the first-ever limits on the gases blamed for global warming.
“The United States ... has fallen behind,” Chu said. “But I remain confident that we can make up the ground.”
While the legislation is likely to clear the environment panel, more than a dozen Democrats have voiced serious concerns about the potential economic fallout from shifting away from fossil fuels to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
On Tuesday, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, told the hearing that he had “serious reservations” with the aggressive effort to cut emissions over the next decade.
The bill calls for greenhouse gases to be cut by 20 percent by 2020, a target that was scaled back to 17 percent in the House after opposition from coal-state Democrats.