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Senate climate bill may drop cap and trade

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"Cap and trade may not be quite dead, but it's been dying for some time," says Kevin Book, a principal with ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington consulting firm. "For five years, Congress has been talking about carbon markets. Now they're saying to heck with that – we've got a problem to solve."

Acknowledging a lot of "wheel spinning" and a "lack of any real consensus," Frank Maisano, spokesman for Bracewell and Giuliani, a law firm specializing in energy issues, suggested on Monday in an e-mail that current rough outlines of the emerging bill appear to include:

1. A new cap just on utility emissions in the short run.
2. A cap for industrial sectors in the longer term.
3. A carbon fee on transportation fuels.
4. Expanded federal support for nuclear power
5. Expanded federal support for the oil and gas industry.

Reactions among environmentalists and industry representatives to the proposed new legislation ran the gamut from wary acknowledgment to cautious embrace to tentative hope.

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