Reid: Cap and trade bill is third in line

The Senate climate legislation process seems to have hit a speed bump the same day the House process did. Greenwire (subs. req’d) reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that Congress could meet President Obama’s call for passing sweeping energy legislation this year — including a climate cap-and-trade measure — though it might take three bills to do it.

The Nevada Democrat outlined what he sees as a three-pronged strategy for meeting the goals Obama laid out in his speech to Congress last night and said the Senate could pass all the bills by the end of the year.

First comes a clean energy bill, then a transmission bill, then a cap-and-trade. I suppose it is theoretically possible the Senate could pass all three by the end of the year (plus a budget and healthcare and everything else).

But I do think this vindicates my earlier prediction that Obama would not get a bill on his desk this year, since the Senate bill would still have to be reconciled with the House bill and then passed by both houses — and I don’t think that’s terribly easy. But again, I think that is probably a good thing because “Obama can get a better climate bill in 2010.

Now I do take exception to Greenwire‘s interpretation of what Obama said about timing:

Obama last night pegged energy as one of the main pillars of his plan for economic recovery, urging Congress to pass legislation that would ramp up renewable energy production and impose a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the year.

Obama said, “So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America” (see here). Doesn’t “this Congress” mean by the end of next year? Am I missing something?

The Greenwire story continues:

Reid told reporters today that the Senate would likely move first on an energy bill that could contain a renewable portfolio standard, energy conservation measures and a number of other efficiency regulations. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and the panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are already working on the bill, Reid said, adding that it could arrive on the Senate floor before the mid-April recess.

“We all agree: Let’s start with Bingaman’s committee and come up with something dealing with renewable portfolio standards, some real good conservation measures in buildings and things of that nature,” Reid said.

Reid said that after that bill, he envisioned Congress would move on a measure that would create “a highway to transmit electricity to where it’s needed,” echoing the words of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Top Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats have made overhauling the electric grid a key part of their energy agenda, repeatedly saying a “smart grid” is needed to move electricity generated by wind, sun and other renewable sources from one region to another.

Finally, Reid said the Senate would then take up a cap-and-trade bill, saying that it would be easier to move on such legislation after Congress had already laid the foundation for overhauling the energy economy through the two previous bills.

“It will make it so much easier to do that to get rid of the energy stuff — so-called low-hanging fruit — to get something done with transmission,” Reid said. He added that Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) “will be able to move expeditiously to get that done.”

“As far as getting you a definite time, I can’t do that,” Reid said. “Our goal is to get that done this year.”

7 Responses to Reid: Cap and trade bill is third in line

  1. Cap and Trade is a political solution to an economic problem. It is not optimized to engineer a reduction in CO2.

    If we gain enough wisdom to allow science to set energy policy then the two pronged attack is clear
    – establish clean energy supplies
    – eliminate all carbon fuel usage

    The delay, obstruction and political maneuvering is all designed to keep carbon fuel flowing.

    Not very wise.

  2. Jim Bullis says:

    After you see Harry Reid and Boone Pickens swear “best friends forever” at:

    you will realize that getting some cash to poor old Boone will be on the top of Harry’s list.

    The Democrats present at that meeting seemed fully signed up to go along with this. They seemed not to notice that the Pickens plan ignores coal fired electricity production.

  3. Not sure what Obama meant in terms of timing or substance. But the House is looking at more direct options for carbon pricing. See “Hansen Tells Ways & Means: Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Needed to Spur Clean Technology Revolution” at

  4. paulm says:

    Its all hitting the fan now…

    So america thought that it was going to be able to take a 2C addition in GW in its stride. That it would survive better than less developed states. Its technology would save it. Not so….

    Droughts ‘may lay waste’ to parts of US

    The world’s pre-eminent climate scientists produced a blunt assessment of the impact of global warming on the US yesterday, warning of droughts that could reduce the American south-west to a wasteland and heatwaves that could make life impossible even in northern cities.
    Sacramento in California, for example, could face heatwaves for up to 100 days a year. “We are close to a threshold in a very large number of American cities where uncomfortable heatwaves make cities uninhabitable,” Field told the Senate’s environment and public works committee.

  5. Thomas says:

    You know, it’s not perfect, but I have to say it is a relief to see this kind of urgency and strategic planning after so much waiting. Having wondered when or if any of these things would come, the fact that Reid is talking about all 3 of them in one year is quite impressive.

  6. CTF says:

    Senator Reid also said recently that any floor debate on the issue would include a carbon tax.

  7. Rick C says:


    Why is carbon trading even being discussed by congress?! CFC trading worked because it wasn’t as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide production. You can trade out an air conditioning system a lot easier then an entire coal fired generating plant. The various interests allied to influence cap and trade just want rip offsets and Wallstreet wants a piece of that after they’ve tanked the economy! I wouldn’t trust Wall Street right now with a rubber dime! BTW, didn’t carbon trading fail in the EU where it was tried? So why beat around the bush? Why not just tax carbon and use the revenues to help the poorest who can’t afford these carbon use taxes?