A half-dozen bills to control greenhouse-gas emissions have been proposed on Capitol Hill and more are pending. Such legislation is a priority for Democratic congressional leaders, but final action will not come quickly.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said at a Jan. 30 hearing that she didn’t know whether her panel could clear a climate-change bill by July but added that “it is my goal to get legislation this year.” In the Senate, a bill needs 60 votes to avoid a deadly filibuster, but even then the President could veto it.

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants a bill ready for floor action by July 4. But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said it may require a new White House administration before such legislation is enacted. President Bush opposes mandates to trim emissions of carbon dioxide, and most congressional Republicans side with him.

“It may be that we can’t get there this year or next, but we’ve got to put in every effort to make the change, to get engaged with Republicans and the President to pass something this year or next,” Waxman says.

Three senators eyeing 2008 bids for the White House support a bill to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from electric utilities, transportation and commercial sectors to one-third of 2004 emissions by 2050. The measure creates an emissions allowance trading system to help emitters meet the CO2 cap. Co-sponsors of the bill include Republican John McCain (Ariz.) and Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) The bill attracted 43 votes when it was first introduced two Congresses ago, by McCain and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.).

Lieberman, now an Independent-Democrat, said Jan. 30 that he believes the “dynamics have changed politically” to pass a climate bill. He says Bush’s mention of “the serious challenge of global climate change” in his State of the Union speech shows the President sees that “global warming is real.” Lieberman added that a recent coalition of CEOs calling for a mandate on carbon issues with a market-based approach may help sway the administration.