Obama Gathers Bipartisan Group for New Energy Reform Thrust


Photo via Whatson

The so-called "conventional wisdom" has been pretty unremitting in deeming any sort of comprehensive energy reform legislation dead in the water this year. But that's still not looking to be the case--some rather unlikely champions, including GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, have continued pushing for a bill that puts a price on carbon haven't relented. And so has Obama, who recently gathered 14 senators from both sides of the aisle to build a consensus for clean energy reform. There's one condition that a bill must contain--it's got to cap greenhouse gas emissions.The event was a dialogue, intended to gauge support and chart a course for energy reform going forward. And there's some reassuring news for those hoping for meaningful reform:

Politico has the story:

In opening remarks, according to Senators in attendance, President Obama took the idea of an energy-only bill - the preferred approach of moderate Democrats - off the table, saying he wanted a "comprehensive" bill that includes a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

"He wants to do it this year, that's for sure," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

The meeting was called because Lieberman, Graham, and John Kerry are about ready to release new climate legislation--a bill that ditches an economy wide 'cap and trade' for restrictions for carbon polluters in different industries.
Lieberman said the meeting was so encouraging that he wanted to bring the same lawmakers together in a new "gang of 14," after they released their proposal. Participants included Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, Judd Gregg, of New Hampshire, George LeMieux, of Florida, and Dick Lugar, of Indiana - all considered "getable" Republican votes for a climate bill by supporters.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, top White House climate advisor Carol Browner, and top economic advisor Larry Summers also attended.

The big news here is that reform simply has not run out of steam--there's still plenty of support for finding a way forward, and perhaps even room to make the legislation truly bipartisan (by including more funding for nuclear and CCS). And that there are proponents who are not giving up the fight--Lord knows I disagree with Graham on a hell of a lot of other issues, but his commitment to finding a way for energy reform to gain traction in the GOP makes me want to shake his hand.

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