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Senate Democrats to Obama on energy bill: Help us

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“I’m working with a number of colleagues now, Republicans and Democrats alike, to look at alternative ways we might be able to scale back,” said Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, a co-sponsor of climate change legislation that includes pricing carbon, on MSNBC.

“What the political market will bear at best is a scaled-down version,” says Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) of South Carolina, who broke off talks with Kerry on this bill in April. “With a weak economy, an economy-wide cap on carbon is probably not going to sell."

"Putting a business-friendly emissions control on utilities is in the realm of possibility, and that would make clean coal, nuclear, wind, and solar more affordable," he adds.

Republicans: just focus on the oil spill

Meanwhile, Republicans are balking at White House proposals to use the Gulf oil spill to jump-start legislation to move off a dependence of fossil fuels. They say new legislation should focus on helping the people that have been hurt by the spill and cleaning up the oil, period. Any new cap on carbon emissions amounts to a tax on oil that will cost jobs, they add.

“We use the oil spill crisis as an excuse to clean up the oil spill and that that [should] be our focus,” says Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee. “And if we have another focus other than helping the people who are hurt, it's to do that cleanup and do that with the minimum amount of impact on Gulf Coast jobs.”

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