June 22, 2010 / 3:27 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kerry says Obama intends to move votes on energy

 * Obama meeting with Senators on Wednesday
 * Kerry says no single way to price carbon
 * Environmental group says Kerry bill falls short  (Adds environmental group analysis, details)
 WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator John Kerry, the top sponsor of the climate and energy bill stalled in the Senate, said President Barack Obama intends to pressure lawmakers to vote for a bill that would put a price on emitting greenhouse gases.
 “There’s no question in my mind the president is fully committed. He’s fully engaged,” Kerry told MSNBC on Tuesday. “He intends to try to move votes himself and he understands the seriousness of this effort.” 
 Obama is slated to meet leading Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday to discuss a way forward for the energy legislation.
 It would take 60 of the Senate’s 100 votes to pass controversial legislation that creates a higher price on carbon. In this election year, some moderate Democrats and Republicans are hesitant to vote for a bill that would raise the cost of burning oil and coal in the hope of making cleaner alternative fuels more competitive.
 If support falls short for placing a price on carbon, Senate leaders might opt for much a more narrow energy and environment bill this year.
 The White House meeting will include Kerry, Joe Lieberman, an independent and co-sponsor of the bill, and Republican Lindsey Graham, one of the original authors of the legislation who later dropped support for it.
 Kerry said the bill must include ways to price carbon but was not “locked into any one single way of doing it.”
 “The fact is if we don’t price carbon, we will create one tenth of the jobs and reduce only one tenth of the emissions,” he said. “It would essentially be an energy-only bill.”
 In his address last week on BP’s (BP.L) oil spill, Obama said he was willing to take ideas from both political parties in order to push forward the bill, which he argued was needed to help lessen dependence on fossil fuels.
 Kerry and Lieberman unveiled the bill last month that would require power utilities to cut their output of gases blamed for global warming. A similar bill passed in the House last year.
 A new analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman bill by the Center for Biological Diversity concluded that the legislation would fall short of international goals to keep the planet’s temperatures from rising more than a dangerous 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
 “There is ... an 80 percent chance that the increase would exceed 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the study. “Even a 2-degree Celsius increase could cause the displacement of millions due to sea-level rise, irreversible loss of entire ecosystems and the triggering of multiple ‘tipping points’ that would result in additional, accelerated warming,” the environmental group said.
 Many policymakers acknowledge that legislation pending in the U.S. Congress might not fully address global warming concerns, but they see these bills as an important first step that could be followed up with tougher efforts later if needed.
 Bill Snape, the center’s senior counsel, also criticized the Kerry-Lieberman bill for including new incentives for offshore oil drilling, nuclear power and a continued reliance on coal-fired electricity generation.
 Those provisions were included in an attempt to lure more support in the Senate.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan, Editing by Sandra Maler)   

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