U.S. Passes Energy Bill, Agrees to Int'l. Climate Change Deal

Washington D.C., USA – The United States agreed to a weakened international climate change deal this weekend, the day after Congress passed an energy bill that boosts future ethanol production and fuel efficiency standards.

Amid the growing chorus of calls for the U.S. to lead the effort to battle climate change, the actions in recent days fell short for many. The Senate bill passed Friday, for instance, lacked a provision eliminating multi-billion dollar tax breaks for oil companies and a mandate requiring 15 percent of energy supplies be drawn from renewable sources.

At the U.N. climate change conference in Bali, the U.S. agreed to negotiate a treaty to follow the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012. The U.S., the only industrialized country to reject Kyoto, insisted that mandatory emissions reductions language of 25 percent to 40 percent be dropped from the framework, arguing that such commitments unfairly influenced future negotiations in one direction.

The U.S. also insisted that developing nations, such as China and India, do their part to reduce future emissions. An agreement was reached to include forest conservation in future negotiations. Negotiating rounds are schedule to end in 2009.

The Senate bill passed Friday forced automakers to increase fuel efficiency standards by 40 percent to 35 miles by 2020. It also mandates that ethanol production reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, compared to 9 billion next year.

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