"The path to progress has been long,” Kerry said at a
packed press conference where he was joined by the bill’s co-author, Senator
Joseph Lieberman. “But despite
“This isn’t a choice,” he added. “It’s a necessity, and we’re
going to get it done this year.”
Kerry was surrounded by energy executives, environmental
groups, and nuclear power interests. Notably missing were any oil company
“One CEO of an oil company is very busy,” Kerry said, referencing the BP executive
who was in a nearby congressional hearing room testifying about the massive oil
spill in the
The bill aims to reduce reliance on foreign oil while
putting a price on carbon emissions and providing billions of dollars in
incentives to industry to drastically cut greenhouse gases.
In an acknowledgment of the mounting anger over the spill –
and in a bid to draw more support from coastal Democrats – Kerry and Lieberman altered
the bill to give states more say over offshore drilling. States would be
allowed to veto plans for any drilling within 75 miles of their shores. In
addition, they could veto plans for drilling off neighboring states if they can
show significant impacts
Graham released a statement this afternoon that, while
generally supportive, suggested he thought the chances of passage this year
“The problems created by the historic oil spill in the
Gulf, along with the uncertainty of immigration politics, have made it
extremely difficult for transformational legislation in the area of energy and
climate to garner bipartisan support at this time,” Graham said.
In lieu of Republican support, Kerry is banking on
politically-connected industry executives to pressure their home-state senators
to pass the bill. A key bargaining chip for Kerry is that the Environmental
Protection Agency has considered developing its own greenhouse gas rules. Such
regulations could be more far-reaching, which worries Republicans and
oil-producing states. Kerry’s bill would prohibit the EPA from developing its
For Kerry and Lieberman to succeed, President Obama would also
have to aggressively push for the bill, both through public appearances and
behind-the-scenes appeals to recalcitrant Democrats.
“Americans know what’s at stake by continuing our dependence
on fossil fuels,” Obama said this afternoon. “But the challenges we face —
underscored by the immense tragedy in the
Later, in a briefing with reporters, Kerry and Lieberman said
they expected the bill could come to the Senate floor in late June or early
July. They said they thought there were more than 60 senators who could be persuaded
to vote for the bill – including Senator Scott Brown, the newly elected
After giving members a chance to review the legislation,
Kerry and Lieberman are planning a more concerted push over the next few weeks.
Representative Edward J. Markey, the co-author of a
climate bill the House approved last year, praised the legislation released
“The time to act is now,” Markey said. “We cannot wait.
Matt Viser can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.