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Obama 'confident' in climate change bill's passage

By Ed Hornick, CNN
President Obama is trying to get Congress to pass an energy and climate change bill this year.
President Obama is trying to get Congress to pass an energy and climate change bill this year.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: White House: "President is confident that we will be able to get something done this year"
  • Senate Democrats and Republicans hold meeting with President Obama on energy bill
  • Climate change legislation has been stalled in the Senate
  • House of Representatives passed its own energy bill last year
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Washington (CNN) -- President Obama met Tuesday with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House to discuss passing an energy and climate change bill this year.

"The president said that there was a strong foundation and consensus on some key policies and the president urged the senators to come together based on that foundation," according to a White House statement.

"There was agreement on the sense of urgency required to move forward with legislation, and the president is confident that we will be able to get something done this year."

Obama told senators that he believes the best way to make a transition to a clean-energy economy is with a bill that "makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America's businesses by putting a price on pollution," the release said.

Some of the lawmakers who attended, according to the White House, included: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee; Barbara Boxer, D-California; John Kerry, D-Massachusetts; Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent; Richard Lugar, R-Indiana; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Notably absent was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who has been involved in confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. Graham has been a key player in crafting legislation with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

Climate change legislation has been stalled in the Senate after the House of Representatives passed its own energy bill last year. The House plan included a so-called cap-and-trade system in which a price is set for greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and polluters can obtain and trade credits for emissions over a set threshold. Republicans are against such a plan.

Oil and coal producers oppose a cap-and-trade system, but supporters argue it is the best way to start to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.

The White House had portrayed the energy talks as a chance for both parties to put forth their best ideas.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently told ABC News that Obama has three main goals for energy legislation: reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, making key investments in clean energy technology and dealing "fundamentally with the environmental degradation that happens from carbon pollution."

Lieberman has expressed openness to a compromise plan from Emanuel that would impose a carbon emissions cap only on the energy utilities across the country. However, he continued to call for a cap-and-trade system.

Lieberman, who sits with the Democratic caucus, recently told CNN's "State of the Union" that he believes an energy bill "does have a chance" this year.

"There are about 50 senators who want to vote for a strong, comprehensive energy bill that puts a price on carbon pollution," Lieberman said. "There are about 30 who are set against it, and there are 20 undecided. You've got to get to 60 to pass anything in the Senate. We need half of the undecided, and we can do it."

Graham has said that getting a bill passed this year with bipartisan support is a priority. He has said he is hopeful that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate can find common ground to pass a bill.

Another Republican is trying to do just that.

In June, Lugar introduced his energy and climate change plan, which he said reflects both Republican and Democratic proposals. He has said it will generate the following savings by 2030 through a series of reductions in foreign oil dependence by nearly 40 percent, national energy consumption by 11 percent, household electric bills by 15 percent and greenhouse gases by 20 percent.

Missing from Lugar's proposal is cap-and-trade provisions.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

 
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