WASHINGTON — Bowing to a lack of support, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on Thursday said there would be no vote this summer on a bill that would put the nation's first limits on the carbon pollution some say is responsible for climate change.
The decision could doom the measure's long-term chances as well.
If Democrats lose their narrow majority in the Senate in the November elections, they would have to relinquish the leadership power that would allow them to bring it up for a vote next year. Many — but not all — Senate Democrats support it, but not a single Republican has agreed to vote for it. A similar measure squeaked through the House of Representatives last year.
Instead of a broad energy and climate bill, Reid said there would be a vote before the Senate takes its August recess on legislation that would increase liability on companies for oil spills, boost a conversion of 18-wheeler trucks from diesel to natural gas to save oil, and create a program that would give homeowners a price break on upgrades to save energy.
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The energy and climate bill would have required power plants, large factories and oil and gas companies to pay for permits to emit carbon dioxide. Most of the revenue would have been refunded to consumers to compensate for higher energy costs.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who had been meeting with interest groups and senators from both parties for more than a year to try to reach a compromise bill that would get enough votes, said the draft he proposed earlier this year would lower energy bills, create jobs in clean energy and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Some industries, however, warned that their costs would go up and they would lose competitiveness if carbon pollution had a price. That message made some senators fear that they would lose their seats if they supported it, Kerry said.