Kerry: There’s a Narrow Window For GOP Cooperation on Pricing Pollution

The chief sponsor of the Senate climate change bill
acknowledged today that there is a narrow window for Republican
cooperation on the legislation, thanks to GOP resistance to its central
goal — putting a price on CO2 emissions.

2549087853_62635f6261.jpgSen. John Kerry (D-MA), at right, with climate bill co-author Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: NWF via Flickr)

"If
there’s a pricing of carbon … there are some people that just aren’t
going to come along," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told attendees at a
National Journal energy policy event. "I don’t think there’s an
enormous universe [of Republicans open to the bill], but it’s enough to
get us over the top."

Kerry’s remarks came as his co-author
on the climate bill, Senate environment committee chairman Barbara
Boxer (D-CA), continues to contend with a GOP walkout of her panel’s first meeting on the measure.

Kerry
and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are slated to meet with senior Obama
administration advisers today to discuss the framework for a bipartisan
climate deal that the duo first unveiled in a New York Times op-ed last month.
Kerry, Graham, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) also plan to tout the
potential for a pro-business climate deal at a press conference this
afternoon.

Kerry said today that the White House is "very
much" open to the general principles of that op-ed, which include a
strengthening of the climate bill’s investment in nuclear power and
expanded offshore drilling for oil and gas. "Nuclear is part of the
solution," he added.

But even as Kerry and Boxer seek to make peace with resistant Senate Republicans, touting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s announcement yesterday
of its (cautious) support for the Kerry-Graham framework, the prospects
for political movement from the minority remain unclear.

Speaking to
the Capitol newspaper Roll Call, Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK), the environment
panel’s senior Republican, charged Boxer with "destroying the integrity
of the committee system" and suggested that his members had little will
to show up for today’s second day of climate meetings.

The
Senate climate bill contains significant investments in clean
transportation, including billions in annual transit and sustainable
development grants. Inhofe was careful to distinguish his clash with
Boxer on climate from his close ties with her on infrastructure:

When
asked if the spat would hurt their efforts to pass a new transportation
bill, Inhofe said “no.” “I don’t think so. We’re on the same side on
that. … You guys [in the press] don’t believe it, but we have a good
relationship.”

GOP senators considered less conservative than
Inhofe have been equally uncertain about the prospects for a climate
compromise. Lisa Murkowski (AK), the energy committee’s senior
Republican, told National Journal attendees that "the closer to the
election you get, the more political this issue will be," but she added
that passage of a climate bill would be necessary before Election Day
2010 only "if it’s [a] good [bill]."

Adding more subsidies for nuclear development is a high priority, Murkowski said, as is re-opening the incendiary debate over drilling in her state’s Arctic National Wildlfe Refuge. "It’s time to be talking about what we have up north," she stated.

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