Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill sent to EPA, buying time in the Senate
The architects of the Senate energy and climate bill showed no signs Wednesday morning of being close to unveiling their plan publicly, amid a still-unresolved political dispute with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
But behind the scenes, the senators moved quietly to make sure the climate bill stays on track for a possible early summer vote if the situation is resolved.
Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) sent their climate proposal Wednesday to the Environmental Protection Agency for modeling, a source with knowledge of the situation said. That's important for two reasons.
First, the move starts the clock on a modeling process that will take an estimated four to six weeks, after which the EPA will report how much the bill is likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost renewable energy and, most importantly, cost the average consumer. Many key senators have said they won't commit to the bill until they see those results. Proceeding with EPA modeling now buys climate bill supporters time: Whenever (if ever) their coalition re-assembles in the next month, the effort will still be on roughly the same timeline for a Senate vote, post-modeling results.
Second, this is a show of faith, of sorts, in the floundering bipartisan climate negotiations. The bill that was sent to the EPA is unchanged from the one that Kerry, Graham and Lieberman were set to roll out on Monday together, before Graham forced a delay by tangling with Reid over the timing of immigration and climate votes this year.
The "KGL bill," as it is known on Capitol Hill, features several provisions that Graham pushed for -- among them, sweeteners for nuclear power and for oil companies -- that Kerry and Lieberman likely would not have included otherwise. If Graham appeared to be out of the negotiations for good, the reasoning goes, Kerry and Lieberman might have sent a very different bill to the EPA.
--Jim Tankersley in Washington