After a meeting between President Obama and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, leading Senate proponents of climate and energy legislation say the only climate bill with a chance of passage this year would be a measure placing a cap on the carbon dioxide emissions of electric power utilities.
At least two Republican senators — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine — involved in Tuesday’s meeting with Obama said they would support placing a cap and price on the CO2 emissions of utilities, provided that most or all of the proceeds were rebated to taxpayers.
A key sponsor of climate and energy legislation in the Senate, John Kerry (D-Mass), suggested he might be willing to drop his move to place a cap and a price on CO2 emissions throughout the economy in favor of a more limited bill capping the emissions of electric utilities. During the meeting with 23 senators, Obama “was very strong about the need to put a price on carbon pollution and make polluters pay,” said Sen. Joe Leiberman (I-Conn), although senators said Obama did not endorse any specific legislation.
A key to getting a climate and energy bill passed before the Senate recesses in August is the support of electric utilities, and the president of one utility — New Jersey-based PSEG — said his company would support a bill placing a cap and a price on CO2 emission for utilities.