Schumer: Dems likely to keep energy and climate bills separate

A proposed measure to address climate change is likely to be offered as an amendment to an energy bill Democrats have drafted in the Senate, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday.

Schumer offered details of an energy and climate change bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he plans to move in July.

"Leader Reid is preparing a really good, strong bill," Schumer said this morning during an appearance on MSNBC, describing elements of the legislation.

Schumer said the legislation would include a lot to encourage use of alternative energy and nuclear power. The proposal would also include stricter regulation of oil companies in the wake of the massive offshore spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Schumer hinted that the legislation would be largely based on an underlying energy bill authored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The committee approved that bill with several GOP votes a year ago.

It would be on top of that where Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would have an opportunity to offer their proposals to rein in climate change, Schumer explained.

The Bingaman proposal would be "the base bill upon which John Kerry will seek to add his bill," Schumer said.

"Kerry has a proposal that has pretty broad support," added the senior Democrat. "He's going, in my opinion, going to get a chance to offer it in the form of an amendment."

Such a move would have the effect of divorcing climate change components from energy legislation during an election year in which vulnerable Democrats might be reluctant to support legislation that might make energy more costly over time. 


"We believe we're right on track as the leadership devises the best process to ensure passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation and appreciate Senator Schumer's compliment of the work that’s been done and the broad support we've secured," said Whitney Smith, a spokeswoman for Kerry.

For instance, Republicans had long hammered away at House Democrats' votes on a much tougher (by comparison) cap-and-trade bill last June, deriding it as "cap-and-tax."


Ben Geman contributed to this report.