U.S. Senate Democrats to introduce energy bill

Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:00am GMT

* Bill to contain reforms on offshore drilling

* May have $4.1 billion in natural gas incentives

WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will unveil as early as Monday a slimmed-down energy bill seeking to make offshore drilling safer and convert trucks to run on domestic natural gas.

The full Senate could begin consideration of Reid's bill on Tuesday and Democrats would like to pass it by the early part of the following week.

With time running short ahead of a month-long recess starting Aug 6, Democrats abandoned efforts last week to put climate-control measures in the bill. Reid said then that he had no Republican votes for items such as carbon caps and mandates requiring utilities to generate some of their power from alternatives sources such as wind and solar.

Reid said Congress could revisit climate legislation in September but lawmakers and analysts doubt there will be much appetite ahead of the mid-term elections in November.

And if Republicans pick up seats, as expected, the effort to put a price on carbon and cut emissions could be stalled for years, which would also hamper the Obama Administration's efforts to take a lead role at the world climate talks.

The narrowed-down bill would hold BP Plc (BP.L: Quote) (BP.N: Quote) accountable for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and seek to prevent similar disasters, Reid said last week.

It will very likely include provisions to force companies to dole out more money to cover the costs of oil spills. The liability cap, which is currently $75 million, will likely be raised to $10 billion or more. One Senate committee passed a bill last month to lift all caps on liabilities. [ID:nN30203706]   Continued...

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