Stripped down energy bill leaves out 'cap and trade'
Without 'cap and trade,' Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Tuesday the narrower energy bill has a better shot at overcoming GOP opposition.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid on Tuesday unveiled a vastly narrower energy bill, minus controversial climate provisions that would have capped carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The bill focuses instead on addressing the Gulf oil spill, home efficiency, land and water conservation, and natural gas powered vehicles.Skip to next paragraph
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After months of political wrestling, the Nevada Democrat last week closed the door on the "cap-and-trade" proposals, including one offered by Sens. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut that would have focused emissions caps just on utility smokestacks. That proposal, among others, was far broader in scope.
By contrast, Sen. Reid said Tuesday that he believed he finally had the 60 votes necessary to avoid a Republican filibuster.
"This bill does not address every issue of importance to our nation's energy challenges, and we have to continue to work to find bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive bill to help reduce pollution and deal with the very real threat that global warming poses," Reid said in a statement. "But this is a good bill that deserves bipartisan support, and continues us along the path toward a clean energy future."
The bill includes as its centerpiece "oil spill response" legislation that would: require BP to pay for damage from its spill; require oil companies to invest in new spill cleanup and prevention technologies; improve federal spill response; reform the Minerals Management Service; and update maritime laws.
But other aspects of the bill, according to a draft summary of the legislation, step into other energy arenas by:
- Providing incentives for turning the nation‘s heavy truck fleet to natural gas and toward electrification of the nation‘s transportation sector.
- Promoting "clean energy job creation" providing $5 billion of rebates to encourage homeowners to make efficiency upgrades as part of the Home Star program.
- Fully funding a Land and Water Conservation Fund over the next five years to ensure that vital US lands and waters are protected into the future from climate change damage.
- Increasing the $1 billion liability cap of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to $5 billion and increasing fees to pay for it by requiring that oil companies pay 49 cents per barrel into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
But that was small solace to crest-fallen environmentalists and renewable energy advocates who were also plainly angered at Republicans' consistent ability to block major energy and climate reform in the Senate.
“At every opportunity, a minority of Senators who are in the pocket of America’s largest polluters in the coal and oil industries chose obstruction over working together to solve America’s energy and national security challenges," said a statement by a group of 350 organizations including the League of Conservation Voters, the Alliance for Climate Protection and the Union of Concerned Scientists. "As a result of their actions, the big polluters will continue to reap record profits at the expense of Americans."