The Environment and Public Works Committee on Nov. 5 approved comprehensive climate change legislation by a vote to 11-1, with no Republicans voting. But the bill faces an uphill battle, with little GOP support. Moderate Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was the lone Democrat to oppose the bill.

Republicans on the panel, led by ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) boycott the meetings held over three days to mark up the bill and said that more analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency was needed. Committee Chair Barbara Boxer countered that extensive analysis had already been done and that “another EPA analysis now would be duplicative and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Meanwhile, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say they plan to work behind the scenes to develop another bill that could garner more bipartisan support.

The Kerry-Boxer bill approved Nov. 5 calls for a 20% cut in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2020. The bill approved by the House earlier this year calls for a 17% cut in carbon emissions by 2020.”

Environmental groups praised the committee for approving the bill while acknowledging that the bill faces formidable hurdles ahead. “Fortunately, a bipartisan group of senators led by John Kerry and Lindsey Graham are working together find constructive ways to keep this effort moving forward,” says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

But Granta Nakayama, a former Environmental Protection Agency official who is now a partner in Kirkland & Ellis’ environmental practice in Washington, D.C., notes, “There is still a long way forward before any type of consensus bill could be developed. People keep forgetting the simple fact that the greenhouse gas reduction goals are very aggressive and will require technology that does not exist today.”

Construction groups like the American Road and Transportation Builders, Associated General Contractors of America, and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association have criticized the Kerry-Boxer bill, claiming that it could cause construction delays.