CBNNews.com - CAPITOL HILL- Congress is using Earth Day to begin serious debate of a climate bill.
The scene was a hearing of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, with the Environmental Protection Agency chief, the Energy Secretary and the Transportation Secretary all on hand.
The proposed legislation is supposed to slash the nation's carbon emissions 83 percent by the year 2050 and create millions of green jobs.
But critics charge slashing emissions will cripple America's growth and send energy costs soaring.
Ranking Republican Fred Upton of Michigan said, "To reach the lofty goal of 80 percent reductions, emissions from the entire transportation sector would have to drop to zero, emissions from all electricity generation would have to drop to zero, and then we'd need to reduce everything else by 50 percent."
Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ed Markey certainly disagreed. He's co-authored the American Clean Energy and Security Act that's up for debate. He said at today's hearing the emissions targets are reasonable, and, "Those who predict our bill will result in soaring energy costs fall into a long line of doomsayers who have eventually been proven wrong."
Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, praised the legislation, saying, "It is a jobs bill that focuses our country's attention on the growth industry of the future, which is the clean energy industry. There are opportunities here for us to create literally millions of jobs."
Defenders of the climate bill said if America does nothing, those green jobs will end up going to foreign competitors. In fact, Representative Markey said it's already happening. "Germany's second largest export after cars is wind turbines. China is becoming the leader in renewable energy. Japan and Korea are leapfrogging America in advanced vehicle technology."
The climate hearings will continue for the rest of the week, with former Vice President Al Gore scheduled to testify about global warming on Friday.