Kerry may soon launch bill produced in weekly talks

Source: Jean Chemnick and Nick Juliano, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

One of the chief architects of an ultimately failed attempt to move climate change legislation through the Senate during the last Congress is mulling a less ambitious approach that may have a chance of passing during a lame-duck session.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has met regularly with interested lawmakers most Tuesdays to discuss the next steps for energy policy in a post-cap-and-trade environment, and he said they may be ready to unveil a product of those discussions later this year.

Speaking to reporters in the Capitol yesterday, Kerry offered few details of what the bill would entail, beyond “some energy priorities, things we can get done in terms of reducing gas prices, strengthening the economy and creating jobs.” A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for additional detail yesterday.

“We’re putting together what we think is a palatable initiative for the time that we have and the political space that may exist,” he said.

Kerry said he was reluctant to offer specifics until the proposal is “locked in,” but he cautioned that it would be much more modest than the carbon dioxide cap-and-trade proposal he worked on in 2009 and 2010 with Senate collaborators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

“It’s not going to be as comprehensive as a lot of us may like, because we’re not going to have time and it becomes too controversial in terms of the presidential election and the races,” he said. “So we have to unfortunately operate within the limited amount of legislative time.”

Still, Kerry said the group’s legislation might become part of a larger package during the lame-duck session at the end of the year, if Republican support can be found for some proposals.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” he said.