The House of Representatives just passed cap and trade legislation to combat global warming.

The final tally – webcast live on C-SPAN – was 219 to 212, largely along party lines, though more than three-dozen Democrats defected to vote against the legislation. 

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 comes three years after the world scientific community warned the planet was on the brink of dire climate changes. The bill has been flogged in the press as a “historic” first step by the United States to show leadership in combating global warming.

But it is not without serious critics. House Republicans spent hours today railing against the legislation. They say it’ll cost the country jobs and destroy the economy. That’s a big contrast with the picture presented by President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership, who say the legislation will create jobs and spark a whole new “green” economy. At the same time, many environmentalists charge that the bill has been watered down with so many concessions to corporate polluters that it will do little to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. 

Anyway, it goes to the Senate next, where it’s expected to face even more opposition.