Dems ready for big push on global warming 

Democratic leaders are pushing legislation aimed at fighting global warming, despite significant opposition in both parties to any proposal that puts a price or a cap on carbon emissions.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told CNN's "State of the Union" he believes there are 50 senators who would vote for a compromise bill that would require the energy utilities to pay for carbon pollution and an additional 20 who are undecided.

"You have got to get to 60 to pass anything in the Senate," Lieberman said. "We need half of the undecided, and we can do it."

Momentum for passing such a bill has increased, Lieberman said, now that President Obama has made energy and climate legislation a priority in the wake of the Gulf oil spill disaster.

Obama will hold a meeting with lawmakers from both parties Wednesday to discuss the next steps in passing an energy and climate change bill.

"I think we have got a fighting chance at this," said Lieberman, who will attend the meeting.

Obama didn't call for limiting carbon emissions when he talked about energy reform legislation in his Oval Office address last week, but his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said on ABC's "This Week" that Obama wants a bill that "deals fundamentally with the environmental degradation that happens from carbon pollution."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is weighing a number of energy reform proposals, including a plan by Lieberman and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., that calls for the government to sell permits for companies to emit carbon dioxide, the so-called "cap and trade" policy, though Democrats have stopped using the term because it proved unpopular.

One proposal gaining support, by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., calls for higher efficiency standards for cars and buildings and more domestic energy production but does not set a mandatory reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Lieberman said he would back Lugar's proposal, "together with a carbon pollution cap proposal ... that begins with the utilities sector of our economy pricing carbon in it, I think that's a significant step forward to a better, safer country."

But Republicans and some Democrats have said such a bill would never pass.

"I don't think that there is the political ability to put a price on carbon," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who appeared with Lieberman.

Democrats will need at least one Republican to come up with the 60 votes necessary to pass an energy and climate change bill. Obama last week invited Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., to the White House to talk energy policy. Brown said he told Obama he does not support any kind of national energy tax or cap and trade bill.

Democrats will also have to round up support from their own caucus, where a handful of Democrats are also unwilling to back a carbon tax.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said there is "growing political will" for an energy and climate bill, though she does not support the Kerry-Lieberman bill.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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