'Cap and Dividend' supporters plot strategy in D.C.

Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen -- one of the groups taking part -- cautioned that all the participants are not endorsing that plan per se, but adds  "there are a lot of folks who understand that it is a superior starting point in terms of a legislative solution." Other groups taking part include Clean Air Watch, 350.org, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, NYPIRG and other state groups.

Cantwell's plan covers "upstream" sources of carbon dioxide (think oil producers and mining companies but not factories and power plants), provides 75 percent of the emissions auction proceeds to consumers, and the balance would go into a new trust fund for clean energy, aid for affected workers and other areas.

The meetings come amid questions about what approach lawmakers will take if the Senate brings up climate change legislation this year, which Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidTrump gets chance to remake the courts Democrats local party problem Trump flirts with Dems for Cabinet MORE (D-Nev.) insists is on the 2010 agenda.

Many major green groups -- including the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- backed the sweeping cap-and-trade and energy bill the House approved in June.

The plan sets a declining nationwide cap on heat-trapping emissions and allows polluters to buy and sell emissions permits from one another and other parties. Unlike the Cantwell plan, the bill -- at least initially -- allocates the bulk of the valuable emissions permits for free to various industries and programs, such as state renewable energy initiatives.

The bill steers large amounts of free allowances to utilities with the requirement that  they be used to hold down consumers' power bills.

Sen. John KerryJohn KerryIran’s nuclear deal just the tip of the iceberg for Trump Trump needs to stand firm on immigration, 'religious-test' insticts Budowsky: Ellison, Kerry to DNC? MORE (D-Mass.) co-sponsored a similar bill in September. But Kerry and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamA Cabinet position for Petraeus; disciplinary actions for Broadwell after affair Pentagon should have a civilian chief to give peace a chance Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington MORE (R-S.C.) -- who along with Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are trying to craft a compromise Senate bill -- have since said that the structure of the Senate emissions-capping measure is in flux.