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After Oil Spill, Need for Cap-and-Trade Bill Is Urgent, Dems Say

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With as many as 60,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico every day, top Democrats on Capitol Hill said Tuesday that the oil spill in the gulf demands that Congress pass comprehensive climate change legislation to wean Americans off fossil fuels.

A broad climate change bill passed the House last year, and a bill in the Senate sponsored by John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, would create a similar cap-and-trade mechanism to put a price on carbon. The cap-and-trade plan would allow utilities to emit a limited amount of carbon every year. If a utility exceeded the cap, it would have to pay for each cubic ton of carbon above the limit.

Although the Senate effort on the legislation has been stalled for more than a year, Democrats believe that the oil spill can end the stalemate.

Hours before the president's Oval Office speech to the nation, he reached out to supporters through e-mail on the climate change issue. "Our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security," he wrote. "It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk. We cannot delay any longer. Please stand with me today in backing clean energy."

But in his address to the nation, President Barack Obama disappointed environmental advocates by stopping short of calling for Congress to pass a specific climate change bill.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) chaired the House hearing featuring five top oil company executives, and was one of several Democrats in the hearing to say that the events of the last two months demand a series of legislative remedies, especially a bill to move America to what Markey called "a safer, clean energy future so that we don't have to rely as much on oil to power our cars and our economy."

Later, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office distributed a poll from the Pew Research Center, which her staff said proves the time for climate change legislation is now. The poll shows that 87 percent of Americans support requiring utilities to produce more energy from renewable sources and 78 percent support comprehensive energy legislation that includes tougher efficiency standards.

"The Gulf Coast catastrophe underscores the need for comprehensive energy and climate reform to rein in Big Oil and reduce our reliance on dirty and foreign fuels," her staff wrote in a memo.

Her staff did not include the fact that the same poll had 68 percent of Americans supporting new exploration for coal, gas and oil.

While Democrats pressed the need for climate change legislation, Republicans complained they were taking advantage of the crisis to push their own agenda.

"Americans want us to stop the oil spill first," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. "And until this leak is plugged, they're not in any mood to hand over even more power in the form of a new national energy tax to a government that, so far, hasn't lived up to their expectations in its response to this crisis."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) echoed that sentiment in the House hearing. "Instead of taking time to talk about cap and tax or cap and trade, let's figure out how to cap the well," Upton said.

While Republicans roundly rejected Democrats' calls for a new energy policy, the case for reform found support in an unexpected corner -- the oil company chief executives whom Markey had called in for the hearing.

CEO of BP America, Lamar McKay, said his company supports several provisions in the Kerry-Lieberman bill. "We favor an economy-wide price for carbon based on fair and equitable application across all sectors," McKay said. "Market-based solutions like a cap-and-trade or linked fee are the best solutions to manage greenhouse gas emissions."

Shell Oil chief Marvin Odum agreed. "Shell supports legislating a solution to energy and climate issues as a means to create and secure a U.S. energy future, to reduce dependence on imported oil, and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions," Odum testified. "This requires setting a price for carbon."
Filed Under: The Capitolist, Oil Spill

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I wonder if this cap and trade will bring gas prices to 9.00 a gallon as it is in England now? America is too big for such prices and it will indeed bury the consumers in debt. I honestly don't know what it means for all of us. Perhaps we need our reporters to investigate what it will mean for Americans.

July 15 2010 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

how about we drill on land -????? it is reported we have enough of our own oil in north dakota, colorado and anwr--to last us 400 years----------------or hey in shallower water--that's an idea-------------------

June 17 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

What is important?.. Right now.. i am afraid how the american citizen feels about cap and trade..excuse me.."THE NEW ENERGY BILL"..matters little to the controlling party in washington dc...Urgency once again fills the air..And you will see your favorite democrat congressional warriors saddle up to fill this great void that has quickly developed..Should be some great comic moments from this next round of goverment telling you what they need..LIKE it or not..It worked in health reason it cannot work in the buying and selling of AIR..SORRY.. CARBON CREDITS..

June 17 2010 at 12:58 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

cjjanis5:45 PM Jun 16, 2010
Republicans never meet a loan from China they couldn't refuse.
Most of these "loans" were accomplished under the Democrat controlled congerss. Bill Clinton gave China "most favored nation trading status" several times...

June 16 2010 at 11:01 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

jfbac11:32 PM Jun 16, 2010
You never fail to amaze me. The facts are that the average person's taxes are cut under democrats and ignored under republicans.
Heard of cap-and-trade? VAT tax? Increased capital gains? These aren't Republican sponsored...

June 16 2010 at 10:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Cap and tax will run this nation into the ground not to mention it will resort in massive job loss. There is not one person in this administration that displays any decent level of intelligence.

June 16 2010 at 7:37 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

I will tell you what is urgent and that is that the Democratic party needs to be expelled from office. Lets get someone that truly represents we the people instead of another democrat who only represents their OWN DEMANDS.

Cap and tax = More loss of jobs + more goverment control

June 16 2010 at 7:33 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

Where's the story on BP's donation to Obama's presidential campaign? Just wondering.

June 16 2010 at 7:17 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, right after we wean these politicians off of the american tax dollar.

June 16 2010 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply

You bet they want cap and Tax. The EPA has already officially declared that carbon dioxide is unhealthy for humans. Why do you think they would do that? So that they can regulate business and tax them according to their "carbon footprint". You see everything has to fall under the commerce clause in the Constitution. If there is money involved with it, the govt. claims the commerce clause gives them the right to regulate it. Oh, guess what, gore has a business based in carbon footprints...what a convenient truth. Lets actually think about this, who pushed oil companies to the furthest depths of the oceans? They need a way to finance their socialist dreams of a govt. controlled utopia. It is happening and it will happen if we don't wake up and stop this congress from destroying what made this country great.

June 16 2010 at 6:04 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

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