U.S. Chamber: Senate climate bill moving closer to industry’s liking

“The fairest comment would be, directionally speaking, the way they are trying to conform and shape this bill I would suggest is largely in sync with what most people in American industry think is the direction you are going to have to go if you are going to have a successful program,” Josten said.

Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are scrapping the “economy-wide” cap-and-trade bill the House approved in favor of a more sector-by-sector approach. This would include a cap-and-trade plan for power plants, while greenhouse gases from motor fuels would instead be addressed through a consumer fee.

The senators are also planning to add sweeteners -- such as major financial support for new nuclear power plants and "clean coal" projects, as well as wider offshore drilling -- to attract support from industry and centrist Democrats and Republicans.

Today's meeting was the second such session over the past week with a broad array of trade groups, representing sectors such as oil companies, utilities, railroads, and many others.

“We obviously talked some substance because we need to talk some substance, so we went through an outline of things we are thinking about,” Kerry told reporters after the meeting. “We shared individual sector issues and different thoughts about approaches in those sectors, and we got quite specific about some of those things.”

Josten also said: “They are being very constructive, they are trying to figure out how to make this work for the American economy, the different sectors of the economy that are going to be affected one way or another, and I think just as, if not more importantly, for the American consumer.”

The senators plan to complete draft legislation as soon as late next week and send it to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring and to EPA for modeling, but they also say that schedule may slip.

This post was updated at 5:04 p.m.