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Last chance for climate change legislation?

Addressing global warming is a top priority for President Obama and for a bipartisan group of senators who'll offer a bill Monday. But tough issues remain, and time is running out before this fall's elections.

By Staff Writer / April 24, 2010

Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R) of South Carolina, center, accompanied by Sen. John Kerry, (D) of Massachusetts, left, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, (I) of Connecticut, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Harry Hamburg/AP


[UPDATE: Saturday 7:30 pm ET. Senator John Kerry said the announcement of the bill, expected Monday, had been "postponed only temporarily." Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier on Saturday he would have to pull out of the bipartisan climate change effort because of concerns Democrats would push forward with a debate on immigration reform, rather than the climate change bill, in the Senate, Reuters reported.]

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It’s crunch time for climate change legislation on Capitol Hill, and the bill to be introduced Monday could be the last chance for passage before lawmakers face voters this fall.

The bill coauthored by Sens. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, and Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut has as its main goal a 17 percent reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) from 2005 levels in 10 years and 80 percent by 2050.

It has easier requirements on emissions caps for power plants and other major contributors of greenhouse gases – easier than previous legislative proposals. It also has incentives to build new nuclear power plants. There are also provisions for offshore oil drilling.

The measure pleases no one entirely. But many environmentalists see it as the most realistic option given the current political climate. And it’s been endorsed by the Edison Electric Institute (which represents the nation’s largest power producers) as well as three major oil companiesShell Oil Co., BP and ConocoPhillips.

Still, it’s an uphill climb for supporters of climate change legislation – which is also a top priority for President Obama.