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Senators unveil climate bill

Republican backing is conspicuously absent, complicating the measure's already troubled prospects.

May 12, 2010|Reuters

WASHINGTON — — Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ratcheted up the fight to pass legislation to combat global warming Wednesday, unveiling a bill as the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster complicates the measure's already slim chances of passage.

Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) took the wraps off their bill, but a Republican supporter was conspicuously absent.

Most of the details of the bill, which aims to cut planet-warming emissions in the United States by a modest 17% in the next decade, already have been leaked.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped write the bill but withdrew from talks over the debate about immigration legislation, did not attend the ceremony.

Graham, in a statement, reiterated that he does not think this is the time to press on a climate bill because of the oil spill and talk of moving ahead on immigration.

President Obama welcomed the new bill, saying he hoped to pass it this year as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico underlined the need for energy legislation.

"The challenges we face — underscored by the immense tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico — are reason to redouble our efforts to reform our nation's energy policies," Obama said in a statement.

"I look forward to engaging with senators from both sides of the aisle and ultimately passing a bill this year."

The bill still has provisions to encourage offshore drilling but would allow states to prohibit offshore oil activity within 75 miles of their coasts.

That may not be enough to win over drilling opponents from coastal states as concerns mount over the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

For Kerry and Lieberman to succeed this year, they will have to win over a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans who have reservations about the bill.

One of those senators, Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, said Wednesday that he would not join their effort.

"No I don't," Lugar said when asked whether he envisioned backing Kerry-Lieberman. Instead, Lugar said he would offer his own ideas in separate legislation sometime soon.

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