The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act also referred as the cap and trade bill, in a historic vote on Friday to advance climate legislation that President Barack Obama has promoted during his administration to put the country into a clean energy economy path.
The bill was approved with with a vote of 219 to 212. Supporters of the bill needed a simple majority of at least 218 votes.
The Senate is expected to write its own version of the legislation, which, if passed, must be reconciled with the House version before it can go to President Obama. He called the House vote a bold and necessary step.
Hours of debate preceded the vote on what has been regarded as one of the most significant pieces of legislation presented to the Congressional floor in decades. Friday's session at the House showed major differences between Democrats and Republicans in their views on the bill.
Republicans had urged Congress to vote against the bill today because they said it will skyrocket energy costs and repeatedly used the term energy tax to refer to it.
In opposition, they stated the bill will cause over 2 million job losses in America per year if industries move their operations to countries that do not have controls on greenhouse gases and doubted it will accomplish dramatic decreases, of greenhouse gases.
Republicans were also against the U.S. taking measures to stave off global warming while major polluting nations such as China and India do not apply similar limits.
The climate bill was designed to slash emissions of greenhouse gases - blamed for global warming. The legislation is also a move to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and spur creation of green jobs for the clean energy industry, including wind, solar, geothermal power, safe nuclear energy and cleaner coal.
The bill's target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.
To achieve it the climate bill also includes a cap and trade system that if enacted, will establish for the first time national limits on emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and factories.
Companies will be given permits to pollute also called allowances and when they exceeds their limits they can buy additional permits from others or would be forced to find ways to reduce pollution.
President Barack Obama said today the climate legislation was enormous progress from where the U.S. has been on the issue previously during a press conference at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.