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The US Senate and climate change legislation

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that the Senate will not pass legislation this year that imposes a price on carbon. Despite the efforts of several senators for months to reach a compromise on carbon regulations, Reid said that incremental steps will be the only practical approach for advancing climate and renewable energy proposals this fall and next year.

Reid further said that small business legislation will top the Senate’s agenda when the chamber returns from the recess next week. The legislation that includes tax breaks for small business is expected to take most of the three week work period before both chambers break again in early October to campaign through Election Day on 2 November.

Reid left the door open for bringing broader energy legislation to the Senate floor for debate during the ‘lame duck’ session, which is the period that Congress is in session after Election Day and before the start of the new Congress in January 2011.

Reid said he is focused on a broader energy bill with provisions that could garner 60 votes. Those provisions could include a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) the NAT GAS Act that mainly includes government support for the conversion of heavy trucks to natural gas, Home Star energy efficiency bill, oil spill liability and other energy provisions.

The focus on carbon regulations now shifts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which plans to finalise its ‘tailoring rule’ in 2011 that will require large emitters over 100,000 t of emissions to consider greenhouse gases when applying for clean air act permits in the future. These regulations would only impact very large emitters such as coal fired electric generators. The long term concern for may emitters, including public gas systems, is that the EPA could in the future seek to apply similar carbon constraints to smaller emitters. 

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