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White House energy adviser says climate bill ‘doable’ this year

By Matthew Daly
AP Writer

Washington — White House energy adviser Carol Browner says she thinks Congress still has time to approve a climate and energy bill this year.

Browner called action on the long-delayed legislation “doable,” because members of Congress increasingly understand the need to develop clean energy that does not emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants blamed for global warming.

Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., are expected to introduce a bill on Monday that would apply different carbon controls to different sectors of the economy, without a broad cap-and-trade approach. It aims to cut emissions of pollution-causing greenhouse gases 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. It also likely will expand domestic production of oil, natural gas and nuclear power.

Browner said the Obama administration supports the bill and is flexible on how it achieves emissions reductions.

“If they want to use different tools for one sector or another, then that’s fine,” she said Tuesday during an event hosted by National Journal.

In a sign of the difficulties the bill is likely to encounter, three Senate Democrats have written a letter to Kerry, Graham and Lieberman warning that they will oppose any effort to shift revenue from new offshore drilling to coastal states.

According to the letter, Sens. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota have “serious concern” about any move to shift revenue from drilling in federal waters to the states.

President Barack Obama called for expanded offshore drilling last month, a move widely seen as an attempt win support from Republicans and moderate Democrats for a comprehensive climate change bill.

Bingaman, Rockefeller and Dorgan do not oppose offshore drilling, but say it would be irresponsible to divert billions of dollars in federal revenue from offshore leases and royalties to state governments.

“There is no justification for using these significant national resources to provide benefits only for a few coastal states and their citizens. Rather, they must be available for the important public needs of all Americans,” according to the letter.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said her Democratic colleagues were “conveniently ignoring the facts about our current system.”

Federal law requires that 50 percent of all mineral production on federal lands goes directly to the state in which it occurs. The law benefits many Western states that have large swaths of federal land, including New Mexico, which has received more than $2.5 billion in mineral payments since 2004.

“Coastal states that support offshore energy production bear the impacts just like states that support production from onshore federal lands,” Landrieu said.

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