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|President Barack Obama on
Tuesday pledged to fight on for a climate change bill, despite the
collapse of US Senate legislation designed to cut greenhouse gas
Obama, after talks with Democratic and Republican leaders in
Congress, said a watered down energy bill soon to come before
lawmakers, shorn of climate change action, was just a first step.
"That legislation is an important step in the right direction," said
Obama, of a bill which focuses on the aftermath of the BP oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico and developing alternative energy projects.
"But I want to emphasize it's only the first step and I intend to
keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation."
Obama said the Gulf oil spill had shown that current US energy
policy was "unsustainable," adding the United States could not stand
by and let China create the clean energy jobs of the future.
"We should be developing those renewable energy resources and
creating those high-wage, high-skill jobs right here in the United
States of America.
"That's what comprehensive energy and climate reform would do, and
that's why I intend to keep pushing this issue forward."
Obama's Democratic allies last week acknowledged they lacked votes
to approve the first-ever US plan restricting carbon emissions
blamed for global warming and shelved the legislation.
With Republicans hoping for big gains in November's congressional
polls, the move may mean the end of carbon capping legislation for
the foreseeable future, dealing a blow to the global effort to
The president also called on Republicans to drop their policy of
blanket opposition to his agenda by backing a bill that would offer
incentives for small businesses to create jobs.
"We shouldn't let America's small businesses be held hostage to
partisan politics, and certainly not at this critical time."
Obama, who will this week step up his political campaigning ahead of
mid-term elections in November, warned lawmakers should ignore
"chatter" about politics and polls and honor their commitments to
"The folks we serve... they sent us here for a reason. They sent us
here to listen to their voices, they sent us here to represent their
interests, not our own."
Later, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled
legislation, dubbed the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Accountability
Act, aimed at boosting the use of "green" energy and encourage
The measure aims to ensure that BP pays fully for damage from the
catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill and to drive the firm and
other oil giants to develop new technologies to prevent and respond
to future spills.
It would also overhaul US government agencies in a bid to improve
their ability to respond to such catastrophes.
The bill includes five billion dollars to provide point-of-sale
rebates to convince consumers to buy energy efficient appliances,
and calls for promoting a shift to vehicles powered by natural gas
It would also scrap a 75 million-dollar cap on oil firms' liability
for economic damages from major spills -- making energy firms
responsible not just for total cleanup costs but also job or revenue
And it would sharply increase a per-barrel oil tax that fills a
special trust fund to pay for damages from major spills from eight
cents to 49 cents, and raise the cap on per-incident Oil Spill
Liability Trust Fund expenditures from one billion dollars to five