House expected to take up climate and energy bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House is expected to pass the massive climate change and energy bill today or Saturday, weeks after a group of rural-state Democrats, led by Rep. Collin Peterson, said they would block the legislation if certain agriculture demands were not met.

The original measure, which would establish a complex carbon market, had sparked conflict between coastal Democrats who wanted to see harder caps against carbon emissions and a large role for the Environmental Protection Agency and farm-state Democrats who warned that such measures could devastate rural America.

A series of late-night meetings between Democratic House leaders and the not-so-subtle urging of President Obama, helped to bring the issue to a head this week.

Among other revisions, the legislation has now carved out a larger role for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and moved to limit the inclusion of indirect land use in greenhouse gas emissions calculations.

Both Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Tim Walz, who sits on the committee, have said they will support the measure.

Although Walz said that the bill wasn’t perfect, he stressed that waiting would be worse.

“The alternative of doing nothing on energy was unacceptable,” Walz said Thursday. “The work that was done on the ag side of things… was key.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have denounced the legislation, calling it a cap-and-tax bill.

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