Senate Democrats to Obama on energy bill: Help us
Senate Democrats feel pressure to 'do something' on the long-stalled energy bill. The Gulf oil spill has widened the partisan divide. The White House will hold a bipartisan meeting Wednesday.
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Republicans: just focus on the oil spill
Meanwhile, Republicans are balking at White House proposals to use the Gulf oil spill to jump-start legislation to move off a dependence of fossil fuels. They say new legislation should focus on helping the people that have been hurt by the spill and cleaning up the oil, period. Any new cap on carbon emissions amounts to a tax on oil that will cost jobs, they add.Skip to next paragraph
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“We use the oil spill crisis as an excuse to clean up the oil spill and that that [should] be our focus,” says Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee. “And if we have another focus other than helping the people who are hurt, it's to do that cleanup and do that with the minimum amount of impact on Gulf Coast jobs.”
Typically, support for energy legislation break out on regional rather than partisan lines, depending on main energy sources in the region. For example, Southern senators complain that wind doesn't blow hard enough to create electricity in their part of the country, while coal-state senators worry that a tax on carbon emissions would undermine their economy.
But in an election year, partisan influences can derail regional alliances. It's no accident that the last two energy bills passed in 2005 and 2007, nonelection years.
“Doing anything on climate will be a heavy lift in an election year,” says Bill Wicker, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) of New Mexico, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “But If President Obama says, 'I’ve talked to my advisors and they said let’s give this a shot' – that may be what is needed to jump-start things.”
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