Dems revive global warming legislation 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring a comprehensive energy and climate bill to the Senate floor by the end of the month that will include a cap on carbon emissions produced by the nation's utilities.

Reid announced his plans after huddling with President Obama about the Senate's July agenda and said he wants to introduce the bill, which has not yet been written, the week of July 26.

Reid was vague on details, but signaled he wants the bill to require the nation's electricity providers to pay a price for emitting carbon, which the EPA says will lead to global warming.

"We're looking at a way of making sure that when we talk about pollution, that we're focused just on the utility section," Reid said, adding that the bill would also include language aimed at reducing energy consumption, producing more clean energy and creating "green jobs." The legislation would also address the Gulf oil spill, he said.

Reid's proposal is more ambitious than many Senate Democrats would like, particularly in an election year and amid polls showing voters care far more about the economy and less about global warming.

Democratic lawmakers said It will be difficult, if not impossible, to find the 60 votes needed to block a Republicans filibuster if the measure includes a cap on carbon, which would raise energy prices.

Following a lunchtime meeting with Reid, Senate Democrats were shaking their heads at the prospect of a carbon cap, even one limited to utilities.

A handful of senators stood up in the meeting and told Reid they oppose moving forward on a bill that will never garner 60 votes but will force them into a politically damaging debate.

"The Chamber of Commerce is going to spend $75 million trying to defeat Democratic candidates, which is more than both the Republican and Senate campaign committees put together," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said after the meeting. "In other words, doing something for the sake of doing it didn't seem to be carrying a lot of favor in there."

Reid is moving ahead nonetheless. He told reporters he would meet Tuesday with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Carol Browner, Obama's director of energy and climate change policy.

"I now have a rough draft of what we're going to do," Reid said.

He refused to describe his proposal as a cap on carbon emissions, a term that has become politically toxic in recent months.

"Those words are not in my vocabulary," Reid told a reporter. "We're going to work on pollution."

There are at least two proposals in the Senate to put a carbon cap on utilities, one authored by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and another in the works by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who earlier this year introduced a bill calling for an economywide cap on carbon.

The Bingaman draft calls for capping carbon emitted by utilities at 25,000 metric tons per year beginning in 2012. The draft also calls for reducing overall carbon emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 42 percent by 2030.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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