[JURIST] US Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) [official website] and a bipartisan group of cosponsors [list] Wednesday proposed a new piece of anti-pollution legislation [press release; video, WMV] that is supported by some of the country's largest coal-burning companies and their labor unions. Informally called the Low Carbon Economy Act [S 1766 materials; floor comments, PDF], the bill aims to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere [JURIST news archive] while protecting the economy by allowing companies to buy sell and trade carbon credits. By 2030, companies would be required to have greenhouse gas emission levels comparable to 2006. A so called "safety valve" in the bill states that if the cost of an emission reduction exceeds a set value, starting at $12 a ton of carbon dioxide, but increasing over time, a company can avoid making the reduction.
Standing beside Bingaman during his announcement to show support for the bill were representatives from energy companies American Electric Power and Duke Energy [corporate websites], and labor union conglomerate AFL-CIO [organization website]. Despite their praise, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) [official website], the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee [official website] dismissed the bipartisan bill, saying it would needlessly increase energy costs [press release]. Inhofe also related the bill to the Kyoto Protocol [JURIST news archive] which he opposes, saying that "Kyotos spectacular global failure should give any advocates of mandatory CO2 cap-and-trade schemes serious reasons to reconsider their support." AP has more.