Looks like a Senate climate bill will not be unveiled the week of Earth Day after all. The new goal for Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., to publicly release a potential deal is April 26, sources said.

National Journal has the story:


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Graham explained why the bill would not be released on Earth Day, April 22. “One, we’re not ready,” he said. Second, he said, the message “had been driven by global warming policy” but is now domestic energy policy, job creation and cleaner air. “We don’t want to mix messages here. I’m all for protecting the Earth but this is about energy independence,” he said.

Also important to their message and their effort to secure 60 votes is having some business leaders on board by the time they release a draft proposal. Kerry is giving industry officials a phone briefing this evening, a source said. A group of industry and business officials gathered earlier this week to assess the situation and many expressed continued reservations, sources said.

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The Edison Electric Institute, the main trade association for the electric utility industry, wants more work done on how a bill would allocate cap-and-trade emission credits to their industry and whether it would pre-empt EPA and states from issuing their own greenhouse gas limits. EEI also wants a proposed $30 per ton “price collar” limiting the cost to businesses under a cap-and-trade program to come down.

Everybody wants something.

But it remains quite important to keep the ceiling of the price collar as high as possible — and rising at a rate of, say, 5% plus inflation a year.  If there is horse trading, then any reduction in the starting price for the ceiling should be matched by an increase in the starting price for the floor.  See “How the Senate can fix cost containment in the climate bill with ‘price collar plus’.”

Speaking of everybody wanting something, E&E News PM (subs. req’d) reports:

Ten moderate Senate Democrats today outlined a series of pro-industry ideas that they must see in a climate and energy bill if the measure has any chance of winning their vote.

Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan led the coalition pushing for provisions to help domestic manufacturers, including free allowances for energy-intensive industries vulnerable to international trade, a border adjustment mechanism aimed at developing countries without strong environmental policies and federal pre-emption over state climate laws.

“We are convinced that successful legislation must include a multi-pronged strategy to maintain and strengthen our industrial base and the millions of manufacturing jobs critical for our economic recovery,” the Democratic senators said in theirletter to the climate bill’s three lead authors, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). “This plan must promote manufacturing competitiveness, create and maintain American jobs, and recognize that a strong manufacturing base is a prerequisite for both a domestic clean energy economy and long-term economic recovery and growth.”

Senators who signed onto the letter represent Rust Belt, Midwestern and mid-Atlantic states with heavy amounts of industry, including Evan Bayh of Indiana, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Robert Casey and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Carl Levin of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Several provisions included in the legislation have long been considered critical parts of a climate bill, and Brown said today he has already gotten positive signals from Kerry, Graham and Lieberman that the ideas will be part of the legislation that is expected to be released later this month.

“If they accept all of this, or the great majority of it, it’ll be a huge, huge step to getting this bill passed,” Brown said. “I want to vote for it. But I want to vote for it as a jobs bill.”

Senate aides confirmed today that the Kerry-led trio plan to release their bill on April 26, a few days after their original plan, which was centered around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day next Thursday. Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have had another packed week of meetings. Kerry joked today on his Twitter account that he had missed a Boston Red Sox game because of the climate negotiations.

He also offered a peek into some of his recent meetings.

“Only in Washington can you talk with James Cameron and David Axelrod in the same afternoon,” he wrote, referring to the director of the Academy Award-nominated film “Avatar” and President Obama’s top political adviser.

The nine senators did not offer legislative language in their letter, though Brown said that would come as the negotiations continue. For now, they have ticked through a number of areas that industry has warned must be addressed to keep energy prices from going too high in the wake of new greenhouse gas limits.

They include “a firm price collar, sufficient offsets, a regionally equitable distribution of allowances, reasonable emissions targets and timetables, and a pathway for the development, demonstration, and deployment of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.”

If you want to understand why bills like Cantwell-Collins, which ignore regional equity and don’t focus squarely on dealing with energy intensive industries in the Midwest, simply don’t attract even a fraction of the 60 senators needed, read the letter here.

Graham has also issued the following statement today:


Senator Graham does not support a gas tax.  And the bill he is working on does not include a gas tax.

He is working with the energy industry to protect consumers from a cap-and-trade system which would do great damage to our economy and national security by driving our refiners overseas.

In this effort, he has some simple but important goals.  They include:

* Create legislation that will significantly reduce our dependency on foreign sources of oil.  Today we are more dependent on foreign oil than we were before 9/11.  It is a national imperative that we must break this unhealthy addiction.  By importing ever increasing amounts of foreign oil, we are placing our economy and national security at risk.

* Preempt the EPA from issuing regulations on greenhouse gas emissions which will do great harm to our economy.

* Create millions of new, 21st Century jobs by ensuring environmental policy is good economic policy.

* Limit carbon pollution.

There seems little chance of getting anywhere near the number of Senate votes needed for a bill that doesn’t preempt the EPA (same for the House).  As I wrote of the House climate bill, I agree with NRDC that it would be valuable for EPA to keep this authority under climate legislation, but is not one of the top five things I would change about the climate bill if I could.  Certainly, if the EPA does keep the authority, it won’t try to use that authority to shut existing coal plants down faster than the bill itself would.