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NJ Daily / ENERGY

Boxer, Reid Eye Broader Climate Bill By Fall

June 29, 2009

Now that the House has narrowly passed a cap-and-trade bill, eyes are turning to the Senate, where Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer is hoping to mark up companion legislation shortly before the August recess.

Given her party's comfortable majority on the panel, whose Democrats generally favor more ambitious global warming proposals, Boxer can pass virtually anything she wants in committee.

But she ideally wants to be closer to a broader deal before introducing a bill. The House bill, she said in a statement after Friday's vote, "gives us the momentum we need in the Senate."

 

Boxer weeks ago tapped all the Democrats on her committee to take the lead on different issues as part of a broader effort to fashion a bill that more moderate Democrats and Republicans would back.

Senate Majority Leader Reid is gathering Boxer and several other committee chairmen -- including Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman and Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin -- to talk things over shortly after this recess.

Reid congratulated House Speaker Pelosi Friday and issued a statement after the vote calling the bill "not perfect," but "a good product for the Senate and our committees to start considering."

Reid added that he will also work with the Obama administration to try to pass a bill this fall, a goal President Obama repeated in remarks today while announcing new energy efficiency standards.

Sources said Reid wants all six committees with jurisdiction on a climate and energy package to have their work done by Sept. 18 to bring legislation to the floor by October.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will also participate in the huddle with Reid and the committee chairmen. She has been taking a role similar to that of House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson in his negotiations with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman during the House talks.

Like Peterson, Stabenow will work on language regarding agricultural activities that can be used to offset emission reduction targets as well as serve as chief negotiator for a broader group of rural and manufacturing-state Democrats.

Along with those 16 Democrats, several Republicans -- including Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- may in the end support a cap-and-trade bill.

Murkowski and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, have to balance how global warming is affecting their state with how a cap-and-trade bill impacts Alaska's oil and gas industry.

At the White House this afternoon, Obama announced energy efficiency standards that he promised will create jobs, reduce emissions and slash demand. And he said he would start with a review of light bulbs in use at the White House.

"The first step we're taking sets new efficiency standards on fluorescent and incandescent lights," he said, adding that "this simple action holds enormous promise because 7 percent of all the energy consumed in America is used to light our homes and our businesses."

He contended that between 2012 and 2042 "these new standards will save consumers up to $4 billion a year, conserve enough electricity to power every home in America for 10 months, reduce emissions equal to the amount produced by 166 million cars each year and eliminate the need for as many as 14 coal-powered power plants."

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