U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to introduce a watered-down energy bill today (July 26), which eliminates targets for carbon caps and mandates that would require utilities to generate some of their power from renewable energy, reports Reuters. Instead, the bill will make offshore drilling safer and convert trucks to run on domestic natural gas.
Democrats dropped efforts last week to put climate-control measures in the Senate bill as they ran out of time with the month-long recess starting August 6. Reid said Congress could revisit climate legislation in September but lawmakers and analysts told Reuters they doubt it will happen ahead of the mid-term elections in November.
The Reid bill would hold BP Plc accountable for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, help prevent similar disasters, and likely include provisions to force companies to pay more money to cover the costs of oil spills, raising the liability cap from $75 million to about $10 billion, according to Reuters.
The bill will also contain incentives to convert trucks to run on natural gas and to implement home energy-efficiency measures such as insulating attics, which may be paid for through taxes on the oil and gas industry.
Without a comprehensive climate bill, the Obama administration may use existing federal laws to reduce carbon emissions, which it wanted to avoid with the legislative bill, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon emissions, and will begin with power plants and factories in January, reports The Washington Post.
Under a compromise bill, Congress would have curbed the EPA’s authority but the president may have to use his veto to defend the EPA from congressional attempts to remove the agency’s power to regulate carbon, according to the article.