With introduction of a greenhouse gas reduction bill in early October, the Senate will finally have climate change proposals to work on. The legislation, sponsored by Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), would require a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020. There are many sticking points in the cap-and-trade proposal, including whether to give the emissions allowances away or to sell them to polluters—and if they are sold, how to use the revenue. In addition, many senators will insist that the bill include incentives for nuclear energy as the cleanest alternative. Kerry has indicated that discussions on the nuclear question will continue.

While cap-and-trade was one of Obama's signature priorities earlier in the year, the prolonged health care debate makes it almost impossible that any legislation can be passed until at least early 2010. Boxer promised her colleagues that the bill will not be brought up for hearings until the Environmental Protection Agency has been able to "score" it in terms of impact on emission reductions, and four other Senate committees could claim jurisdiction over some of its sections.

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