12 Dems press Reid on carbon curbs as energy bill talks continue

“President Obama has consistently called for establishing a price on carbon as part of any comprehensive clean energy legislation Congress passes,” it adds.

The letter is from Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax MORE (D-R.I.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinAmerica is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction Financial aid fraud is wrong — but overcorrection could hurt more students Democrats denounce Trump's attack on Cummings: 'These are not the words of a patriot' MORE (D-Md.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions Graham moves controversial asylum bill through panel; Democrats charge he's broken the rules MORE (D-Vt.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings Senate Democrats demand Trump order review of White House security clearances Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (D-R.I.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHouse passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback Democrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border MORE (D-N.J.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersVolatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite MORE (I-Vt.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus MORE (D-Ore.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenLewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (D-N.H.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSteve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? King incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks MORE (D-N.Y.), and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Al Franken urges Trump to give new speech after shootings: 'Try to make it sound like you're sincere, even if you're not' MORE (D-Minn.).

It notes that, “A price on carbon can be achieved in a number of different ways” but should at least yield a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution from 2009 levels by 2020, and an 83 percent reduction by 2050, and return most of the revenue generated to households.

The call for carbon provisions is part of a broader set of recommendations in the letter on energy legislation addressing the BP oil spill and low-carbon energy, such as rolling back subsidies for major oil companies and a strong national renewable electricity standard.

Climate advocates face an uphill battle — against the clock and resistance from Republicans and some centrist Democrats – to keep emissions curbs alive politically.

Reid expects to bring energy legislation to the floor next week, spokesman Jim Manley said. Reid said last week that the measure would include proposals to limit emissions from power plants, in addition to measures responding to the oil spill, curbing energy demand and boosting “clean” sources.

But there are widespread doubts about the likelihood of moving legislation with climate provisions before the August break, if at all.

Sens. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryTrump's winning weapon: Time The Memo: O'Rourke looks to hit reset button #FreeAustinTice trending on anniversary of kidnapping in Syria MORE (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who are negotiating with environmental groups and power companies on a utility-focused climate plan, acknowledge that reaching a breakthrough agreement would be tremendously difficult in the short span before the August break.

“It is okay with me to wait until September. If Senator Reid is going to go with a utility-only bill with a carbon cap, it is clear that the utilities whose support we need for it are not ready to give that support in the next week or 10 days, because it is a whole new bill,” Lieberman said in the Capitol Wednesday.

Lieberman noted there are “rumors” that Reid may move ahead with an oil-spill-related bill before the break and address the climate plan after lawmakers return.

The push by the 12 senators to keep emissions limits in play comes amid a flurry of meetings on Capitol Hill on the eve of a Senate Democratic caucus meeting Thursday to try to determine the path forward on energy and possibly climate legislation this year. 

The heads of the Sierra Club, Environment Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council huddled with Senate Democratic leaders in Senate Reid’s office. They are discussing whether any energy strategy can include a first-time carbon-pricing program focused on electric utilities. Later, a larger group — including officials from the Center for American Progress and League of Conservation Voters — gathered in Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE’s (D-N.Y.) office one floor down from Reid’s in the Capitol Building.

The discussions with Senate Democratic leaders come amid a possible messaging mix-up in their ranks. Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (D-Ill.) said in a published report Wednesday that an energy bill will not come up for debate on the Senate floor this summer. But his spokesman quickly clarified that Durbin “misspoke” and that Reid “intends to bring up some form of an energy measure next week.”

Whatever the timing, Sanders isn’t optimistic about a climate bill.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence about global warming, despite the clear reality that we can create millions of good paying jobs, the Republicans are putting politics way ahead of the needs of the American people and this planet, and if you don’t have any Republican votes it is very, very difficult to do anything significant. Period,” the Vermont independent told reporters in the Capitol Wednesday.

“And then you have some conservative Democrats who have their own problems. That’s the reality and that is where we are today,” he added.