US Senate set for energy, environmental bill debate

Fri Jul 9, 2010 9:41pm GMT

* Fate of carbon pollution controls still uncertain

* Oil spill response linked to alternative energy bill

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, July 9 (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. Senate aim to debate in late July a bill clamping down on offshore oil drilling practices and fostering more alternative energy use, but no decision has been made on whether to include controversial climate change provisions, aides said on Friday.

As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill entered its 81st day with BP (BP.L: Quote) (BP.N: Quote) still unable to plug its leaking undersea well, the Senate was planning a two-week debate on an energy and environmental bill that could start as early as July 19.

"Staff spent this week preparing different options," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He said Reid and other senior senators will review those options when Congress returns from a 10-day break next week.

Manley added that steps to encourage the use of cleaner-burning alternative energy sources will be a "core part of the package" being crafted. Legislation responding to the BP oil spill also will be included, he said.

Climate change legislation is a key part of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda, but it has been opposed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats. Republican leaders have branded the effort a "national energy tax."

Manley would not comment on whether the bill will include steps to put a price on carbon dioxide pollution as a way of tackling global warming.   Continued...

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