Washington, D.C., July 23, 2010 — Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama will have to pursue narrower pieces of environmental legislation as the Senate lacks the votes to pass a comprehensive climate change bill, according to reports.
Instead of a far-reaching bill containing a cap-and-trade mechanism to curb carbon dioxide emissions, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to introduce a smaller energy bill meant to deal with offshore oil drilling rules.
Consideration of the broader energy legislation that the Obama administration has been pushing for will be put off until about September, Reid said.
While a climate change bill did pass through the House of Representatives last year, the Senate legislation did not have the Republican support to move forward, he said.
Prominent Republicans have said any bill containing a cap-and-trade or carbon tax measure would be too costly a burden to place on the economy and the still-struggling American job market.
A scaled-back energy bill could promote measures such as natural-gas vehicles and energy-efficient buildings, but would likely not contain such sweeping requirements as a federal renewable portfolio standard.
Obama has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to to regulate carbon dioxide directly if no legislative fix is possible. In response, the EPA has issued rules requiring power plants to obtain permits for their carbon dioxide emissions.
Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have written a bill to impose carbon dioxide caps on electric utilities only — as opposed to earlier legislation that would have included the transportation and manufacturing sectors.
The leadership of power companies such as GE, Alstom, Duke Energy, PG&E Corp. and NRG Energy have asked for Washington to enact legislation requiring the significant reduction of greenhouse gases. Such companies have asked for a degree of regulatory certainty before they invest billions of dollars in expensive low- or no-carbon technologies.