Climate Bill Advocates Scramble for Senate Votes


"'buffet strategy' employed to find 60 needed votes before new Congress. . ."

With time running out on the legislative calendar, top Democrats and the White House have begun a piecemeal review of options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing oil consumption as they respond to the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf.

The Obama administration and its allies on Capitol Hill have settled on what is being called a "buffet strategy" to find 60 votes they need to get a bill done before a new Congress comes in next January.

"What you have is everybody right now is just throwing everything on the table," said Brian Wolff, vice president for communications and government affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

Tomorrow, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) meets with key committee leaders to map out a floor strategy for the next two months. A special Democratic caucus is also planned for next Thursday to give all 59 senators a chance to weigh in on pricing carbon emissions and other alternative options for promoting energy efficiency and promoting the use of fewer fossil fuels.

President Obama last week held firm in his call for pricing carbon emissions. And Reid said yesterday he also hoped to see that concept remain in a Senate bill. But exactly what that section of the package looks like remains a wide-open question.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who worked for about nine months with Kerry and Lieberman on their package, said yesterday he would not support the bill as it was introduced last month. Graham disapproved of changes oil-drilling sections, as well as how to regulate emissions from the transportation sector.

Instead, Graham said he wants to wait until 2011 to work on climate legislation that deals with U.S. EPA regulations of greenhouse gases with a focus on setting limits just on the electric utility industry.

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