SCENARIOS-Outlook for climate bill in U.S. Congress

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, April 23 (BestGrowthStock) – When a compromise climate
change bill is unveiled in the U.S. Senate — possibly as early
as Monday — it will kick off a new drive to pass the
controversial environmental legislation this year.

Here are possible outcomes for the legislation that aims to
reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon
dioxide, that many scientists blame for global warming.

IT GOES ALL THE WAY

There’s widespread agreement that enactment of a bill this
year is very difficult. But things could line up to make it
happen. Here’s how:

* Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman
unveil a bill that wins some strong business and industry
support and merely tepid opposition from those who otherwise
might savage it.

* The Senate doesn’t get too hung up on financial
regulatory reform, immigration reform, a Supreme Court
nomination or anything that would take away time from debating
the climate change bill in June or July (a Washington heat wave
during those months might not hurt either).

* The U.S. economy shows further signs of improving, thus
making it somewhat less politically risky to vote for a bill
that would raise domestic energy prices. And, supporters make a
convincing case that the climate bill creates jobs.

* President Barack Obama becomes heavily engaged in pushing
for passage.

* If the Senate passes a bill, the House of Representatives
is willing to compromise on its already-passed measure, which
doesn’t have strong incentives to expand nuclear power and
offshore oil drilling.

Approval of a compromise bill by a House-Senate negotiating
panel clears the way for each chamber to vote on final passage
and send a bill to Obama for signing into law, in September or
October.

SOME OF IT GOES ALL THE WAY

Instead of passing comprehensive climate change legislation
with firm targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, only a
smaller step is politically feasible.

This likely would be in the form of the alternative energy
measure approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee last year that would place new requirements on
electric power utilities to use wind, solar and other clean
energy sources.

There also could be opportunities for passing new tax
incentives to help develop green energy.

DEADLOCK

The Senate cannot manage to get the 60 votes necessary to
overcome procedural hurdles against either comprehensive
climate change legislation or more narrow energy-environment
bills.

In that case, supporters will argue that great progress has
been made with the 2009 House passage of a bill, approval of a
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee measure and
significant work on a compromise that at least brought some
Republicans, moderate Democrats and many industry groups into
the conversation.

The next Congress, in 2011, would try again, but it could
be an even tougher battle as Democrats’ strength likely will be
diluted by the November elections.

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(Reporting by Richard Cowan, editing by Anthony Boadle)

SCENARIOS-Outlook for climate bill in U.S. Congress