Kerry seeks to blunt GOP attacks on climate bill


Kerry said that consumers would initially get two-thirds of the money the bill raises from the sale of carbon permits to polluting industries.

The balance would go to energy efficiency programs, research and development programs and to help “cushion” the impact on energy-intensive manufacturing industries.

After an initial phase – it’s not clear how long – Kerry told reporters that 96 percent of the funds go back to consumers, with the remainder reserved for deficit reduction.

He also noted that the so-called trade exposed, energy-intensive industries get rebates.

Kerry said the bill would include a plan pushed by billion oil magnate T. Boone Pickens to switch heavy-duty trucks from diesel to natural gas, and also said it would promote domestic production of electric cars.

The bill has long been expected to include provisions to expand nuclear power and widen offshore drilling. Kerry’s cosponsor, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), said Tuesday they did not plan to remove offshore drilling provisions despite the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The plan is expected to provide states that have new drilling off their shores a share of the leasing and royalty revenue. A Senate aide also said that states would be able to pass laws that prevent lease sales in federal waters within 75 miles of their shores.

Kerry told reporters that he hoped the bill would be unveiled very shortly.

Kerry and Lieberman crafted the measure with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), but Graham has suspended his support for advancing the measure because he’s upset with Democratic immigration plans.

Lieberman suggested Tuesday that he and Kerry may push ahead without Graham. Kerry declined to directly address the possibility of unveiling the bill without Graham, telling reporters that Graham is “standing by the work product and he is standing by the bill, no matter what.”

Graham in recent weeks has accused Democratic leaders of planning a divisive, politically motivated immigration fight that he argues will sink the prospects for the climate measure.