Reid Bullish on Climate Bill

| Thu Feb. 25, 2010 12:05 PM EST

Does John Kerry have good reason to be so optimistic about a climate bill? The Washington Post reports that he’s getting strong signals that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants a bill ASAP, indicating that senators might be closer to a deal on climate and energy than many people around Washington have assumed.

Kerry indicated to reporters Tuesday that an energy package is still atop Reid’s agenda for the year. And in a statement to the Post, Kerry said that Reid is “deadly serious about making progress this year on climate and energy reform.” Reid met with Kerry on Tuesday after a he huddled with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to discuss the anticipated measure.

"Senator Reid made it clear to me the other day that he wants a bill and he wants it soon," Kerry said. "I can't give you an exact timeline, but we are working very very diligently with our colleagues and all of the stakeholders to think this through carefully and get this done right, and get it done in a way that can pass the Senate."

Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has been less enthusiastic about moving on a bill this year, saying earlier this week that he doesn’t think it stands much of a chance of going anywhere. His committee has jurisdiction over some key elements of the bill, like permit allocation and any revenues it may bring in.

Sources close to the climate debate at environmental and energy industry lobbying groups indicate that they, too, are getting positive signals that the Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman are getting close to a deal. Kerry indicated that they’ve close to agreement on key elements like a nuclear energy title, but the outstanding issue remains what kind of mechanism they will use to price carbon.

Barack Obama’s appeal to industry leaders to support a cap also seems to have revived hopes that something will move forward soon. So we might well see the fruits of Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman's efforts some time soon.