White House senior adviser John Podesta on Monday indicated that President Obama would veto an energy efficiency bill set to be debated in the Senate this week if it is approved with “unacceptable riders.”
Podesta’s comments could be read as a warning to proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline that the White House would veto an energy bill that seeks to force Obama’s hand on the issue.
Podesta said the White House hopes the bipartisan energy efficiency bill led by Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law Wicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBudowsky: President Biden leads NATO against Russian aggression New Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE (R-Ohio) gets to the floor and that the administration backs the underlying bill.
“We hope that it passes, but if it passes with unacceptable riders, then it will be headed to the watery depths,” he said at the White House daily press briefing.
Podesta’s comments are aimed at more than Keystone.
Senate Republicans said last week that they want to vote on at least five energy-related amendments to the energy efficiency legislation, including a measure to block the administration’s rules limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Podesta said the efforts in the Senate, and particularly the House, to stop the administration from using its authority under the Clean Air Act will “have zero percent chance of working.”
“We are committed to moving forward on those rules,” Podesta said. “We are committed to maintaining the president’s authority.”
Podesta said the administration is on track to propose carbon limits for existing power plants by early June.
Power plants are the single largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S., and the administration’s rules seek to reduce emissions through the use of technologies like carbon capture sequestration.
But Republicans argue the rules are part of the administration’s “war on coal” and are hoping the energy efficiency bill will open up what they say is an overdue debate on U.S. energy policy.
The last time an energy-focused bill came to the Senate floor was in 2007, Republicans said last week.
Republicans and a number of Democrats have been pushing for an amendment on Keystone to be added to the energy bill, or for stand-alone legislation to be given a vote.
Either way, there will be push back from the White House.
“In the past, when Congress has acted, it has actually served to slow down the review process, and we believe strongly that that’s not an effective or helpful way to bring that process to a conclusion,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on a possible Keystone XL amendment.
Podesta and Carney’s comments come during a week in which the White House is trying to put a focus on climate change.
The administration on Tuesday will release the third National Climate Assessment, which will focus on the regional impacts of climate change across the U.S.
Obama will meet with meteorologists Tuesday to discuss the report’s findings and what it means for U.S. communities, Podesta said.
— This story was posted at 2:19 p.m. and updated at 7 p.m.