Hitting a wall of bipartisan opposition to placing a price on carbon, even if just in the utility sector, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday unveiled a narrow, limited energy bill that contains no cap and trade plan.
"Unfortunately this Congress, we don't have a single Republican," Reid told reporters, as he outlined a 4-pronged plan that increases the liability cap for damage incurred from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as, new oil rig safety regulations; converts the diesel fleet to natural gas; legislates the HOME STAR energy efficiency program which provides homeowners financial incentives to purchase energy efficient products; and invests in the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Reid said he has 60 votes for the scaled-back legislation, though details of the BP portion of the bill were not yet clear. The HOME STAR legislative component has Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, as a co-sponsor, though, and Reid said Republicans have supported the other provisions of his plan.
Moderate Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, a cap and trade skeptic said he expects the new Reid bill to pass.
While the leader is punting on climate change legislation for now, he made it clear he and other Democrats would continue to try to rally support for a price on carbon, but it is not clear how the math would change in the Senate that would enable Reid to get 60 votes to break a filibuster.
Still, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has worked on climate change legislation for more than a year, promised, "Let me be crystal clear, this legislation he has proposed doesn't replace climate change legislation or comprehensive energy legislation," adding that President Obama called him before a Democratic Caucus meeting on energy Thursday afternoon promising to step up efforts to find support for a broader bill.
While Republicans stood unanimously against any bill that priced carbon, it is important to note that coal state Democrats and others opposed the effort, as well.
And Reid's struggle got no easier this week when his newest Democratic member, Carte Goodwin, who replaced the late Sen. Robert Byrd made it clear before he even arrived in Washington that he would not support cap and trade legislation.
The West Virginia Dem, at a news conference in his home state Friday said, ""With regard to cap and trade, I will say this: From what I’ve seen...they simply are not right for West Virginia."