House Members Call for Carbon Cap

| Tue Mar. 30, 2010 2:32 PM EDT

The House environmental caucus has a message for the Senate: don't send us a climate and energy bill that only does half the job.

This is the latest dispatch from representatives concerned that the Senate will screw up their work on a comprehensive climate and energy package. A group of moderate Senate Democrats has been agitating for an energy-only bill. At the same time, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and other senators working on an energy package have maintained that it shouldn’t be a "half-assed" bill (i.e., should contain a cap on carbon along with energy policies), but there’s considerable concern that the Senate bill won't be as strong as the House-passed version.

On Friday, 45 House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer calling for a bill that includes strong energy and climate goals. They also sent copies to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama. The representatives are all members of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition, a block of progressive Democrats organized in January 2009 to advocate for clean energy policies. "[I]t is of the highest priority that any comprehensive energy legislation includes reductions of greenhouse gas emissions necessary to spur private investment in American clean energy technology," wrote Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), co-chairman of the SEEC, in the letter.

"It is essential that a comprehensive energy bill includes greenhouse gas emissions targets and durable mechanisms to ensure those targets are achieved," the letter continued. A carbon cap, the letter argues, "gives industry predictability and strong incentive."

Inslee said in a statement that he is "encouraged by the bipartisan work to get an energy bill in the Senate," but House members want to reaffirm that the cap is an "essential" component of legislation.