May 14 (Reuters) - Leading Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have fashioned a compromise climate change bill that they hope attracts enough support to win approval next week by the Energy and Commerce Committee.
President Barack Obama has made fighting climate change a priority, and the House aims to approve its version by August. But it faces tougher going in the Senate, where many Republicans and even some Democrats are nervous about a "cap and trade" program to gradually lower industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. It is also easier in the Senate than the House for a minority to block legislation.
Here are details of the House Democratic version:
* U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would be reduced 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. This is less ambitious than the 20 percent initially sought, but slightly more aggressive than the approximately 15 percent Obama proposed.
The legislation sets further pollution reduction goals — 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050, with the latter just slightly higher than Obama suggested.
* Still not settled is the total amount of pollution permits that would be given away to industry and how much would be sold initially. The free permits are designed to ease industry’s burden and to prevent large energy price increases for consumers. Obama wants all of the permits to be sold, but has indicated flexibility.
* Utilities would get 35 percent of the free permits, trade-vulnerable industries such as steel, cement and glass would get 15 percent, firms making electric and advanced technology vehicles would get 3 percent. Democrats were still deciding whether oil refineries would get free permits.
* Utilities’ free permits would begin phasing out in 2026 and by 2030 they would have to pay for all licenses to emit greenhouse gases.
* Electric utilities that capture and store greenhouse gas emissions could get up to $100 billion in bonus carbon pollution permits.
* Utilities would have to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power and show a 5 percent gain in energy efficiency by 2020. Governors could lower the 15 percent target to 12 percent with 8 percent efficiency gains if they determine the national goals are unattainable for their states.
* Obama’s February budget envisioned $646 billion in revenue from the sale of the permits between 2012-2019.
* Companies could "offset" up to 2 billion tons of their emissions annually by paying for green projects in the United States and other countries, such as preserving tropical rainforests.
* A one-year plan to encourage consumers to buy more fuel efficient cars — and to jump-start sagging new car sales — would provide vouchers of up to $4,500 for trade-ins of "clunker" cars to be replaced by new, better mileage ones. This provision could end up being split off of the climate change bill and passed separately in the House.
* Republicans will try to attach several provisions to the bill, including ones to count nuclear power as an alternative clean energy. (Reporting by Richard Cowan. Editing by Simon Gardner)