Landrieu praises new climate plan

Key senators are now working on a climate bill that would move away from the cap-and-trade program the House approved last year, and Landrieu suggested her vote could be in play.

“I am generally happy that we are moving away from an economy-wide cap-and-trade — which I think in the current climate, not just political but economic climate, would be extremely difficult — to a more modest approach,” Landrieu, a strong ally of oil companies, told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday.

Landrieu opposes broad cap-and-trade plans that hold refiners responsible for securing emissions permits that account for tailpipe emissions from motor fuels. Refiners say these plans would impose huge costs on their businesses and give a leg up to refineries overseas.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are planning an approach that would impose separate types of controls on different economic sectors.

Their plan, which remains a work in progress, would keep auto emissions outside of cap-and-trade and instead address transportation fuels through some kind of tax or fee.

Landrieu said the plan is “moving in the right direction” and noted that addressing carbon emissions is important. She praised the effort to pursue “a more limited cap-and-trade for utilities, which is being contemplated, and then identifying a price for carbon in fuels to encourage us to go to cleaner fuels.” She added that such a shift is under way.

Kerry and the other two senators trying to salvage climate legislation this year are actively meeting with colleagues as they craft the plan.

Graham told reporters their bill will not be out this week.

Several other senators who are considered possible swing votes in the climate debate avoided commenting Tuesday on the emerging Senate plan, noting they have not seen it yet.

“You know more about it than I do. I don’t have anything to say about it because I don’t know what’s in it,” said Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) last year co-sponsored a sweeping cap-and-trade plan that resembled the House bill, but that plan is far short of the needed 60 Senate votes.

Boxer said Tuesday that an economy-wide cap-and-trade bill remains her preferred approach but nonetheless praised the plan Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are crafting.

“Anything that moves us to a place where we can encourage clean energy and get off foreign oil is good. Obviously, we think the economy-wide is the best, would do it the quickest, but I am very open to all of these ideas,” said Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

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