UPDATE: 8:26 p.m. Cap and trade bill passes in U.S. after historic vote
UPDATE: As of Friday 5:20 p.m. EST the U.S. House of representatives continued debating the climate bill. A spokeswoman for the Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she did not know the time when the vote would take place.
The U.S. House of Representatives could pass a major climate bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act on Friday afternoon, a measure that will boost the development of clean energy sources in the country and increase commitment from the United States in the fight against global warming.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. EST today, according to AFP. The Democratic party needs at least 218 from the 435 seats in Congress.
We'll have the 218 votes, said today Steny Hoyer, Democratic House Majority Leader, according to the agency.
The bill proposes for the first time for the U.S. to set national limits on emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and factories, also known as cap-and-trade.
The cap-and-trade system is an incentive for companies to find less polluting ways of generating power. The government will give companies permits to pollute, also called allowances. When a company exceeds this permit it can buy additional permits from others or would be forced to find ways to reduce its pollution.
The climate bill aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels. It has been referred as one of the most important pieces of legislation ever introduced in the Congress, according to former Vice President Al Gore.
President Barack Obama considers it a top priority for his administration and the national economy. He and House speaker Nancy Pelosi have said the bill is a national security issue because it would help the country to reduce dependence on foreign oil, create green jobs and keep the environment clean.
Opponents of the bill say that it will skyrocket energy costs for consumers and cause job losses in America if industries move their operations to countries that do not have controls on greenhouse gases. Proponents say the bill was designed with measures to prevent this.
After passing Congress, the bill needs approval from the Senate.
More news on the climate bill: