Sec. Salazar: Cap-and-trade 'is not in the lexicon anymore'

"Cap-and-trade" isn't part of the Obama administration's lexicon anymore when it comes to addressing climate change, a top cabinet secretary said Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sent signals that the White House believes the controversial climate change regulatory system, which passed through the House last year, was unlikely to emerge from Senate talks on a compromise energy and climate bill.

"I think the term 'cap-and-trade' is not in the lexicon anymore," Salazar, a former senator, said during an interview on CNBC when asked if the climate change regulation system would be abandoned.

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President Barack Obama is set to unveil this morning new plans to expand oil and gas exploration in American waters, particularly off the Atlantic coast. Salazar characterized the impending announcement as about both conservation and development.

The secretary said the announcement would fit within the president's broader energy and climate agenda, an agenda which Salazar said the administration still expects to move through Congress.

"We're hopeful we will be able to see an energy and climate change agenda move forward," he said, pointing to the healthcare debate as a template for what's politically attainable.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have been working together to craft a comprehensive energy and climate bill, one that would prospectively expand exploration and the use of nuclear energy, as the president has called for, paired with some sort of limit on greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

The cap-and-trade system to have passed through the House in a contentious June vote has seemed for months now to be unlikely to muster the 60 votes necessary to move forward in the Senate, though the administration has been reluctant to concede some defeat in that area.

Salazar said that it was within the context of cap-and-trade being set aside that the three senators would hopefully bring forward their energy and climate proposals soon.