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 WhitehouseDemocrats rip Barr over IG statement: 'Mouthpiece' for Trump Trump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill MORE (D-R.I.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDemocrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism The Secure Act makes critical reforms to our retirement system — let's pass it this year Lawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death MORE (D-Md.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe Horowitz: 'We found no bias' in decision to open probe Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE (D-Vt.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedGabbard calls for congressional inquiry over Afghanistan war report Gillibrand demands hearing following release of 'Afghanistan Papers' Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members MORE (D-R.I.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSaagar Enjeti says Corbyn's defeat in UK election represents 'dire warning' for Democrats Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Lankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman MORE (D-N.J.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Reject National Defense Authorization Act, save Yemen instead MORE (I-Vt.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyMcConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre MORE (D-Ore.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA Senate panel advances Turkey sanctions bill despite Trump objections MORE (D-N.H.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAdvocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit This bipartisan plan is the most progressive approach to paid parental leave Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' MORE (D-N.Y.), and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenLankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Take Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota 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 KerryUN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest' Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: 'scathing indictment' Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill 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 SchumerTurf war derails bipartisan push on surprise medical bills Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave 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 DurbinLawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns Senators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial 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.