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Energy Bill Debate May Start Next Week

Energy Bill Debate May Start Next Week
Uncertainty about what will be included in an energy bill before debate starts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wants to start debate on an energy bill next week. But first he must come up with a bill for consideration. Reid says the bill would address the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, clean energy and job creation, and will include a tax title and language on pollution from power plants. That last provision is widely seen as a limit on greenhouse gases though Reid has avoided use of the word cap.

Unknown is if provisions from existing energy and climate bills will be put together into one measure. A dozen freshmen Democratic Senators want carbon pricing included in the energy bill. Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, I-N.H., continue working on brokering an agreement between electric utilities and major environmental groups on a cap covering emissions from power plants.

Lobbyists say the problem is the distribution of emission allowances, as well as new demands by utilities for exemptions from EPA regulations on traditional pollutants, including lead, mercury and ozone, in exchange for agreeing to carbon dioxide limits. Major health and environmental groups have called such exemptions simply unacceptable and a threat to millions of lives.

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