Reid To Unveil Energy-Climate Bill This Month

This I got from the NRDC. Thank you .This article was written for a news service Called E&E.

Josh Voorhees and Robin Bravender, E&E reporters
The top Senate Democrat today vowed to unveil a four-part energy bill the week after next, including language to directly address greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters the bill will also respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, boost U.S. energy efficiency and ramp up clean energy production. Floor debate could begin the week of July 26, Reid said, after the legislation is drafted.

“There’s no actual bill,” he said. “I hope to be able to have a bill introduced week after next.”

Reid’s announcement comes as staff-level talks are continuing throughout the Capitol on the final details of the energy and climate package. Several key senators are now focused on a plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, rather than an economywide bill, and Reid seemed to endorse that approach.

“At this stage, we haven’t completed it, but we’re looking at a way of making sure that when we talk about pollution, we’re focused just on the utility sector,” Reid said.

Reid sidestepped a question about whether his bill would impose a “cap” on utilities’ carbon emissions. “Those words are not in my vocabulary,” he said. “We’re going to work on pollution.”

Reid added that he was working with the Finance Committee on the utilities title. But Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told reporters just before Reid’s comments that he was unsure if the bill would limit carbon emissions.

“I don’t know,” Baucus said. “Senator Reid has to make that decision.”

Baucus said he expected the bill to contain energy efficiency provisions and incentives for clean energy production. He also said he was working on package of energy tax provisions that he hoped to attach to the package.

Other key Democrats, likewise, appeared to remain in the dark in terms of exactly what Reid’s pollution-reducing plans are.

“I don’t think a final decision has been made,” Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said of plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s going to be up to Reid.”

Utilities only
Several lawmakers are in talks with the majority leader’s office over the structure of the final bill.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that he has sent a variety of draft bills to Reid’s office, including a utilities-focused option and a nuclear title. He said that he was also working with Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine on the utilities-only approach.

“If you do a utilities only, and this is disappointing to me, but if you do utilities only, it’s a significant step forward, but it probably doesn’t achieve the same cut in dependence on foreign oil or the same reduction in carbon pollution, and it doesn’t create the same number of jobs,” Lieberman said. “But it would be a significant start.”

Lieberman said he still thinks that the sweeping energy and climate bill he authored with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) remains the best option but said that the final decision will be Reid’s. “Senator Reid has to make a judgment about what he thinks can pass, so we’re trying to supply him with the details of alternatives,” he said.

Kerry and Lieberman are planning to circulate a bill capping greenhouse gas emissions from just the utility sector, according to a Kerry spokeswoman. “We will circulate a bill as soon as it’s ready — hopefully soon,” she said. “Details are still being finalized.”

A draft utilities-only bill from Bingaman is also circulating among senators. That draft, which surfaced today, would begin capping utilities’ emissions in 2012 and would allow manufacturers to opt into the program if they chose to (Greenwire, July 13).

With the exception of Snowe, most moderate Republicans remain cool to the idea of a utilities-only approach.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said a “pure energy bill” without a price on carbon is the only thing that could pass in the next few months.

“I don’t think [a utilities-only cap-and-trade bill] is viable before the election, and I think we need an energy package before the election,” Gregg said.

“I don’t like or dislike it,” Gregg said of a utilities-only approach. “I just don’t think it is practical in this climate to think you are going to do a cap-and-trade bill in what do we have, four weeks left, maybe? Heck, they can’t even cap the oil well in the Gulf — that’s taken them three months. So I don’t think we can practically do it. But we could pass a very aggressive energy bill … we could do that.”

Still talking
Neither Lieberman nor Kerry attended a White House meeting today with Democratic leaders. According to the White House and several Democrats, the morning talks focused on the general legislative schedule but did not delve deep into the energy issue.

“We actually didn’t talk a whole lot about that at the White House meeting,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Reid and Senate Democrats are holding a host of additional meetings to discuss the bill with key administration officials and stakeholders as they scramble to cobble together the final pieces. Reid said he was meeting with White House energy czar Carol Browner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“I have met with strategic senators, committee chairs, and I now have a rough draft of what we’re going to do,” Reid said.

Kerry is slated to meet this afternoon with environmental groups and with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The meeting with the co-ops is expected to be “an exchange of ideas and concerns on climate change,” said Tracy Warren, a spokeswoman for the association. The representatives from the association will include managers of generation and transmission cooperatives, she said.

Democrats aim to push bill to the left
Several left-leaning senators are urging Reid to include more aggressive measures in the bill than the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade proposal would have, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

The senators — including Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) — will push for a “significant” investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment.

On a renewable electricity standard, the senators ideally want to see a standard above 20 percent, and ideally in the 25 percent range. The energy-only bill that passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer would require utilities to provide 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021, with slightly over a fourth of the requirement that could be met through energy efficiency measures. The climate and energy bill that passed the House last summer sets a combined 20 percent renewable electricity and efficiency standard by 2020.

“We’re not necessarily putting out a new bill per se, but I think there’s an effort to put together some principles … that could guide what a truly progressive climate and energy proposal would look like,” the aide said.

Reporters Katherine Ling, Noelle Straub and Allison Winter contributed.


One Response to “Reid To Unveil Energy-Climate Bill This Month”

  1. Grunergy Says:

    Let’s hope it includes a wealth of wind turbines and solar energy!

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