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Reuters - Kerry Says Obama Intends to Move Votes on Energy

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator John Kerry,

the top sponsor of the climate and energy bill stalled in the

Senate, said President Barack Obama intends to pressure

lawmakers to vote for a bill that would put a price on emitting

greenhouse gases.

"There's no question in my mind the president is fully

committed. He's fully engaged," Kerry told MSNBC on Tuesday.

"He intends to try to move votes himself and he understands the

seriousness of this effort."

Obama is slated to meet leading Republican and Democratic

senators on Wednesday to discuss a way forward for the energy

legislation.

It would take 60 of the Senate's 100 votes to pass

controversial legislation that creates a higher price on

carbon. In this election year, some moderate Democrats and

Republicans are hesitant to vote for a bill that would raise

the cost of burning oil and coal in the hope of making cleaner

alternative fuels more competitive.

If support falls short for placing a price on carbon,

Senate leaders might opt for much a more narrow energy and

environment bill this year.

The White House meeting will include Kerry, Joe Lieberman,

an independent and co-sponsor of the bill, and Republican

Lindsey Graham, one of the original authors of the legislation

who later dropped support for it.

Kerry said the bill must include ways to price carbon but

was not "locked into any one single way of doing it."

"The fact is if we don't price carbon, we will create one

tenth of the jobs and reduce only one tenth of the emissions,"

he said. "It would essentially be an energy-only bill."

In his address last week on BP's oil spill, Obama

said he was willing to take ideas from both political parties

in order to push forward the bill, which he argued was needed

to help lessen dependence on fossil fuels.

Kerry and Lieberman unveiled the bill last month that would

require power utilities to cut their output of gases blamed for

global warming. A similar bill passed in the House last year.

A new analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman bill by the Center

for Biological Diversity concluded that the legislation would

fall short of international goals to keep the planet's

temperatures from rising more than a dangerous 2 degrees

Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

"There is ... an 80 percent chance that the increase would

exceed 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to

the study. "Even a 2-degree Celsius increase could cause the

displacement of millions due to sea-level rise, irreversible

loss of entire ecosystems and the triggering of multiple

'tipping points' that would result in additional, accelerated

warming," the environmental group said.

Many policymakers acknowledge that legislation pending in

the U.S. Congress might not fully address global warming

concerns, but they see these bills as an important first step

that could be followed up with tougher efforts later if

needed.

Bill Snape, the center's senior counsel, also criticized

the Kerry-Lieberman bill for including new incentives for

offshore oil drilling, nuclear power and a continued reliance

on coal-fired electricity generation.

Those provisions were included in an attempt to lure more

support in the Senate.


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