Sens. Lieberman (I) and Warner (R) are, as you may know, attempting to put together a global warming bill that can get through the Senate. They’re picking bits and pieces from all the other bills floating around. A hearing on Wed. Tues., with testimony from a variety of big money types, should reveal something about how they plan to play it.

Here’s what E&E has to say (sub. rqd):

Lieberman and Warner are a little more than three weeks into talks on a compromise climate package that would establish a cap-and-trade system covering most sectors of the U.S. economy. The senators say they are building from at least nine different proposals, including four bills that Lieberman cosponsors.

"They’ve got essentially a notebook that’s about the size of the Manhattan phone directory they’re trying to work from," said Frank O’Donnell, head of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch.

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Aides to Lieberman and Warner acknowledged last week that their bill may not be ready for official introduction until after Congress returns from the August recess — a slight shift from their earlier announced plans. But the aides also insisted that any delay does not mean they cannot reach agreement over the coming weeks on some of the most important details (E&E Daily, July 18).

"We have started pen to paper," a Lieberman aide said Friday.

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Few doubt that Lieberman and Warner have given themselves a difficult task. A number of politically sensitive items must be resolved, including the level for first-ever emission reduction targets and the method for allocating tens and potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in carbon dioxide credits.

Also, the senators say they will write a bill that limits costs on the economy. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) introduced legislation this month with a "safety valve" that puts a $12 per ton ceiling on the price industries must pay during the program’s first year when emitting carbon dioxide. But opposition to that specific approach remains strong among environmentalists and key lawmakers, and Lieberman and Warner are likely to be on the lookout for other ideas.

Warner, for example, said last month he supports an "emergency off-ramp" from the new climate program. Details of exactly what Warner’s approach would entail remain unclear.

In dealing with international competition, Lieberman and Warner have several options. One approach backed by major labor groups would require U.S. trading partners such as China and India to purchase pollution credits if they do not have sufficient global warming policies in place after about a decade.

More on Warner’s important shift on global warming here.

I predict that what Lieberman and Warner produce will be a weak-ass brew. Nobody who reads this site will like it. Nonetheless, it may well turn out to be the best that can get through the Senate.

Does that mean we should support it, or that we should wait for a different political landscape in 2008? Discuss.