Reid to advance limited oil spill and energy bill, delaying climate action July 22, 2010Posted by Laura Arnold in Emissions Trading/Cap and Trade, Federal energy legislation.
Tags: federal energy legislation, Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), Sen. Harry Reid
By Darren Goode – 07/22/10 11:19 AM ET
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring a limited package of oil spill response and energy measures to the floor next week, delaying action until at least this fall on a broader proposal that would impose greenhouse gas limits on power plants, senior Senate Democratic aides said.
Aides insisted Reid’s decision is a nod to the packed floor schedule the Senate faces before it leaves in two weeks for the August recess, and that he he has not abandoned plans to try and bring up a broader climate and energy plan later in the year.
But other legislative priorities and election-year politics may scuttle the wider climate and energy plan altogether.
For now, the limited package expected on the floor this month will likely allow Democrats to push through a response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — such as tougher rig safety requirements — and perhaps some energy provisions that members of both parties could support.
The bill will not include a renewable electricity production mandate boosting power sources such as solar and geothermal that are key industries in Reid’s home state of Nevada.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave bipartisan support to such a mandate last year. But it is also controversial because Republicans have sought to ensure it includes all nuclear energy production – both existing and future.
The mandate from the Senate panel just includes new nuclear production. Southeastern lawmakers from both parties have also argued that their region does not have the resources to meet a national mandate.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) – who has helped lead the effort to reach a deal on focusing a carbon-pricing plan on electric utilities – acknowledged Thursday that “the chances of this bill are very tough right now.” He cited “fear” from those who have not signed on to a carbon-pricing measure because of possible rebuke from voters.
“We need to take the fear out of this and empower our colleagues to go out and vote,” Kerry told a town-hall event hosted by Clean Energy Works.
—Ben Geman contributed to this report
This story was updated at 11:53 a.m.
The contents of this site are © 2010 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.