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US climate change bill in trouble

An ambitious climate change bill had been sliding down President Barack Obama’s to-do list even before the Republican upset in Massachusetts that saw Scott Brown take Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.

world Updated: Jan 21, 2010 23:49 IST

An ambitious climate change bill had been sliding down President Barack Obama’s to-do list even before the Republican upset in Massachusetts that saw Scott Brown take Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.

Now it seems more likely than ever that Democrats in the U.S. Senate will not touch global warming in 2010 unless they can be assured of sizeable Republican support. Brown’s election has also led to international concern that any failure to act by the US — the world’s biggest historical polluter — would undermine attempts to seal a global deal.

However, Senator John Kerry, who is leading the push on climate change in the Senate, said he remained confident of getting broad support for a bill.

“The political atmosphere doesn’t reduce the urgency of dealing with pollution and energy, and the surest way to increase the anger at Washington is to duck the issues that matter in peoples’ lives. There’s public support and this can be a bipartisan issue,” he said.

“This is the single best opportunity to create jobs, reduce pollution, and stop sending billions overseas for foreign oil from countries that would do us harm. Sell those arguments and you’ve got a winning issue,” he said.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed a climate change bill last June. But Senate Democrats had long calculated that — with the divisive fight over healthcare causing internal splits — their only hope of passing their own version of a climate bill was to win Republican support.

Kerry has been leading a tripartisan effort with Republican Lindsey Graham and independent Joe Lieberman to craft a bill that would pull support from at least a few Republicans.

The troika has yet to produce a draft proposal, but there is anticipation of an expanded role for nuclear power, perhaps with more cheap government loans or streamlined regulations to get projects approved. There is also talk of offshore oil and gas drilling.

The Guardian