UPDATE 2-U.S. senators postpone climate bill unveiling

* Immigration fight could doom climate legislation

* Efforts continue to rescue environmental bill – source
(New throughout)

By Richard Cowan and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, April 24 (BestGrowthStock) – One of President Barack
Obama’s top priorities — tackling global warming — suffered a
severe setback on Saturday when a fight over immigration
derailed plans to unveil a compromise climate change bill.

A bipartisan group of senators led by Democrat John Kerry
had been aiming to outline details of their climate change bill
on Monday.

That plan was canceled after Republican Senator Lindsey
Graham, a member of the working group, threatened to pull out
if Democrats pushed for a debate on an overhaul of immigration
before doing the huge environmental and energy legislation.

Without Graham on board, efforts to pass climate control
legislation could be doomed, as he was expected to work to win
more Republican support for the bill.

Kerry later announced that “regrettably, external issues
have arisen that force us to postpone” advancing the climate
control bill, which also would have expanded U.S. nuclear power
generation and offshore oil drilling.

The Massachusetts Democrat indicated the three senators had
agreed on the details of a bill before Graham sent his letter.

Kerry added that he and independent Senator Joseph
Lieberman would continue working to advance the legislation
“and are hopeful that Lindsey will rejoin us once the politics
of immigration are resolved.”

The Senate climate legislation, under close international
scrutiny, would have reduced U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide
pollution, which is blamed for causing global warming and
results from burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, to
generate electricity, power factories and operate cars and
trucks.

That legislation also would was expected to introduce a new
trading system for pollution permits, similar to programs in
the European Union and among 10 northeastern U.S. states, to
cut pollution.

A Democratic Party aide suggested that key figures were
scrambling late on Saturday to find a way to put back on track
what may be a last-ditch effort this year for climate-change
legislation.

“There’s huge movement to find an accommodation between
(Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid, Graham, and the White
House,” the aide told Reuters.

“The environmental community is sounding the alarm that
they need the majority leader to put the pieces back together
or they’ll hold him accountable,” the aide added.

REID UNDER PRESSURE

The flare-up over immigration came a day after Arizona
Governor Janice Brewer, a Republican running for reelection,
signed into law a tough immigration measure that Obama called
“misguided.”

Reid, like many Democrats in Congress, is in a tough race
for reelection in November and is facing pressure in his state
to pass immigration reform, while others want a climate control
bill. There is little time left in the legislative calendar.

Democrats, who have a majority in Congress, have signaled
they want to pass the climate bill as well as legislation to
provide a path for some 11 million people in the United States
illegally — many of them Hispanics — to gain citizenship.

Hispanics, a key voting bloc who tend to favor Democrats,
and other groups have pushed for the legislation, which would
also increase border security and reform rules for temporary
workers in the United States, which is important to the
business community.

The effort to pass the two major bills this year has
angered Republicans, many of whom oppose both measures. Graham
is seen as a key player on both the climate and immigration
issues.

The fate of both bills depends on the ability of Reid and
Obama to forge an agreement with Republicans, who have resisted
cooperating for the past two years on most major Democratic
initiatives.

Carol Browner, the White House’s top energy and climate
advisor, said on Saturday, “We have an historic opportunity to
finally enact measures that will break our dependence on
foreign oil, help create clean energy jobs and reduce carbon
pollution.”

She urged the three senators to continue their efforts.

Reid said Graham was under “tremendous pressure” from his
party “not to work with us on either measure.”

“I appreciate the work of Senator Graham on both of these
issues,” Reid said, adding that Americans “expect us to do both
and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one
is an excuse for not acting on the other.”

Graham has been chafing all week over reports that
Democratic leaders were signaling that immigration changes
could be the next big legislative push in the Senate after it
finishes a bill to overhaul financial regulations.

“Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked
manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy,”
Graham said in a letter on Saturday to Kerry and Lieberman.

Graham said debate on the controversial immigration changes
was not ripe and should occur next year, after the November
congressional elections.

The climate bill, however, already faced an uphill battle
in the Senate before it became enmeshed in the battle over
immigration.

If Congress fails to approve climate legislation this year,
it could try again in 2011. If all efforts collapse in
Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said it
would begin regulating greenhouse gases for the first time, an
outcome business and environmental groups wish to avoid. They
prefer legislation tailored to their needs.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Asheville, North
Carolina; Editing by Paul Simao)

UPDATE 2-U.S. senators postpone climate bill unveiling