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Stripped down energy bill leaves out 'cap and trade'

Without 'cap and trade,' Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Tuesday the narrower energy bill has a better shot at overcoming GOP opposition.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Director of the White House office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner, talk to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday. Senate Democrats abandoned plans to pass an energy bill that caps emissions of carbon dioxide, saying Republicans refuse to support the measure.

Alex Brandon/AP

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Senate majority leader Harry Reid on Tuesday unveiled a vastly narrower energy bill, minus controversial climate provisions that would have capped carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The bill focuses instead on addressing the Gulf oil spill, home efficiency, land and water conservation, and natural gas powered vehicles.

After months of political wrestling, the Nevada Democrat last week closed the door on the "cap-and-trade" proposals, including one offered by Sens. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut that would have focused emissions caps just on utility smokestacks. That proposal, among others, was far broader in scope.

By contrast, Sen. Reid said Tuesday that he believed he finally had the 60 votes necessary to avoid a Republican filibuster.

"This bill does not address every issue of importance to our nation's energy challenges, and we have to continue to work to find bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive bill to help reduce pollution and deal with the very real threat that global warming poses," Reid said in a statement. "But this is a good bill that deserves bipartisan support, and continues us along the path toward a clean energy future."

The bill includes as its centerpiece "oil spill response" legislation that would: require BP to pay for damage from its spill; require oil companies to invest in new spill cleanup and prevention technologies; improve federal spill response; reform the Minerals Management Service; and update maritime laws.

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