By Ben Geman - 03/16/10 06:49 PM EDT
Former President Bill Clinton urged Senate Democrats to pass energy and climate change legislation that he said would provide an economic spark to the U.S., according to senators emerging from Clinton's briefing to the Democrats' weekly caucus lunch Tuesday.
"He just said get it done, get it done because it's good for our economy," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats. "He talked about his travels around the world and said that there's concern about whether America is going to remain the competitive economic force that we have been.
"He thinks, bottom line, that there's no better way to create a surge of new jobs, in this case clean-energy jobs, than passing an energy independence bill," Lieberman added.
Clinton said part of this initiative should include putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, but did not get into specifics, Lieberman said.
Lieberman is working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on a compromise climate and energy bill. They hope they can generate momentum on the issue, which has stalled in the Senate.
The three senators plan to include limits on greenhouse gas emissions as well as a series of provisions to attract centrist Democrats and Republicans, such as expanded support for nuclear power and wider offshore oil-and-gas drilling.
Lieberman said the trio hopes to complete draft legislative language by the end of next week to give to the Environmental Protection Agency for modeling.