Thank you NRDC. In NRDC in the news.This might work and it is a good political strategy…but I say asap.
September 29, 2010 05:43 PM EDT
Key Senate Democrats and Republicans indicated Wednesday that they agree with President Barack Obama’s call to tackle energy and climate legislation “in chunks” come 2011.
From John Kerry to Lamar Alexander, the reaction on Capitol Hill to the president’s remarks in a Rolling Stone magazine interview suggest there’s room for compromise on energy and environmental issues when Congress returns next year.
The senators said a lesson learned after the last two years of debate is Congress won’t have much luck trying to tackle global warming in the same sweeping fashion tried over Obama’s first two years in office.
“I don’t think right now the votes are there for the comprehensive approach,” said Kerry, a lead negotiator on the 2009-10 cap-and-trade bill that failed to reach the floor for a vote.
“But I think it’s possible to have a comprehensive approach that doesn’t necessarily involve direct carbon prices,” Kerry added. “So you can still be comprehensive and get a fair amount done in a less demanding way for some senators.”
Kerry said he spoke this year with several key Republicans, including Alexander and Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, on a way to get short-term greenhouse gas emission reductions similar to earlier versions of his legislation.
“There are ways of doing comprehensive legislation on energy that can get you very close to where we were on the first 10 years of reductions and I think that’s worth trying to see if we can frame that,” Kerry said. “I think that’s a worthy fight.”
Alexander said he’s still looking into his options for next year on the nexus between climate, energy and traditional air pollution – an issue he’s previously been at the center of.
“I haven’t come to a conclusion yet on how to deal with a cap on utilities but I favor the concept,” he told reporters. “And I think if we’d started out there dealing with climate change we’d be a lot further along than we are today.”
Looking ahead to 2011, Alexander said one idea he thinks Congress should consider is passing a bill that places limits on power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen and mercury – also known as the three pollutants, or 3Ps – while saving greenhouse gases for later.
“We’ve got that all figured out,” he said. “We don’t have carbon all figured out. So I think we ought to do what we’ve already figured out, which is the 3Ps while we continue to discuss what to do about carbon.”
A top Senate Democratic leader and many other rank-and-file senators also welcomed Obama’s call to pair back their strategy.
“I agree with the president’s priority,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters. “How we do it, how we achieve it, I’m open to. If there’s a way to do this in smaller pieces with bipartisan cooperation, which we’ll definitely need, then I want to do it.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that if Congress does try to limit greenhouse gases, they should try first with a bill she’s introduced with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that auctions off all allowances and returns revenues back to taxpayers. But she too is open to a less comprehensive measure. “I think that it’d be a far better approach that would likely have more success,” Collins said.
“I think that’s a smart idea,” added Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) ruled out passage of climate legislation along the lines of what was narrowly adopted in the House in June 2009 – a bill that limited emissions across more than three quarters of the U.S. economy.
“I think a comprehensive climate bill like the House passed in this Congress is not likely to pass in the next Congress,” Bingaman said.
But Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) warned that Congress faces an uphill climb on energy and climate change no matter which route it takes.
“We tend not to be very good at chunks, but then you could argue that we tend to not be very good at big things either,” he said.
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