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
"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
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
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.