U.S. Won't Pass Carbon-Price Law for Power Generators This Year, Reid Says

The U.S. won’t pass legislation this year that charges power plants a price for releasing carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists have linked to climate change, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

“It’s a cinch we’re not going to get it done this year,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said of the carbon-pricing plan today at an energy conference in Las Vegas.

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed cap-and-trade legislation in which power plants, oil refineries and factories would have bought and sold a declining number of carbon-dioxide pollution rights. The cap-and-trade bill, which aimed to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent from their 2005 level by 2020, stalled in the Senate.

Reid and other Senate Democrats proposed scaling back the cap-and-trade proposal to regulate power plants, which produce roughly a third of U.S. greenhouse gases. The smaller cap-and- trade bill also failed to win enough support to get a vote in the Senate before lawmakers left Washington in August for a month long break.

Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and one of the authors of the scaled-back plan, said in July it was still possible the climate-change legislation could be taken up between elections in November and the start of the next Congress in January.

Capping ‘Good Thing’

While the plan to cap greenhouse gases from just the electricity sector is a “really good thing” that should become law in the future, it will have to take a back seat to more limited energy proposals this year, Reid said.

Democrats may try to pass legislation to boost sales of vehicles that run on natural gas and spur renovations to make houses more energy-efficient, Reid said. While the legislation might have to wait until after U.S. voters go to the polls Nov. 2, “even before the election we should have a run at it,” he said.

Rebates for cars and trucks that run on natural gas and energy-saving upgrades in U.S. homes were included in energy legislation Reid released in July to respond to the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The legislation, which would also overhaul offshore oil and natural gas drilling rules, was opposed by Republicans and some Democrats and didn’t get a vote before lawmakers left Washington in August. Reid said today he may separate the vehicle and home- renovation incentives from the offshore drilling legislation to give them a better chance of passing the Senate.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Lomax in Washington D.C. at slomax@bloomberg.net

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