America

Senate Democrats Punt On Comprehensive Energy Bill

Geese and power plant

Geese fly past a smokestack at Westar Energy Inc.'s coal-fired power plant near Emmitt, Kan., in January 2009. Charlie Riedel/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Charlie Riedel/AP

Facing up to the reality that they currently lack enough votes to get past Republican opposition, Senate Democrats said Thursday they were putting off action on comprehensive energy legislation until fall at the earliest.

Legislation to impose caps on greenhouse gas emissions from industry is central to President Barack Obama's hopes to reshape the nation's energy use.

But the caps, which would require companies to pay for exceeding their maximum allowed emissions, have been controversial. Conservatives have argued, among other points, that the result would be the equivalent of big new taxes on companies that would ultimately be passed along to consumers.

Instead of a comprehensive package, Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, told fellow Democrats the plan is to introduce more limited legislation before the Senate leaves for its August recess.

For instance, one bill Senate Democrats plan to introduce would aim at the Gulf of Mexico oil cleanup.

An excerpt from The Hill:

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Ohio) said the energy provisions slated to move before the break are aimed at boosting deployment of natural gas-powered vehicles and funding home energy efficiency retrofits.

"There is a lot to do but we have to take the first step," she said.

She noted that "we don't have any Republican support to overcome a filibuster" on climate legislation at the moment.

The limited package also will likely allow Democrats to push through a response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — such as tougher rig-safety requirements.

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