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Climate-energy bill debuts in Senate, but prospects are dim

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Still, the bill's authors say they are hopeful, arguing that their legislation would help unhook the nation from overreliance on foreign oil, which costs the US $1 billion a day, and create a new energy infrastructure to add jobs and curb carbon emissions.

“The American Power Act will finally change our nation’s energy policy from a national weakness into a national strength,” Senator Kerry said in a statement. “We can finally tell the world that America is ready to take back our role as the world’s clean energy leader. This is a bill for energy independence after a devastating oil spill, a bill to hold polluters accountable, a bill for billions of dollars to create the next generation of jobs, and a bill to end America’s addiction to foreign oil."

Germane to Obama's energy policy

Passage of a climate-energy bill in the Senate is crucial to President Obama's energy plans, which push wind, solar, and other renewable sources. Unless a price is put on each ton of carbon emissions, many analysts say, the Obama plan won't gain traction.

Like the House bill, the Senate bill unveiled by Kerry and Lieberman is designed to win votes by doling out revenues from the sale of pollution permits. But even with all the ornaments on what Mr. Book calls a "Christmas tree" bill, he still writes in his analysis that "Senator Graham’s retreat from active support of the bill makes it harder for Senators Kerry and Lieberman to muster a bipartisan consensus."

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