Friday, May 9, 2008

The Week Ahead: May 12-16

On Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in SD 406, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will conduct a full committee hearing on mercury legislation. The purpose of the hearing is to examine three bills. Senator Carper’s mercury air emissions bill, which establishes a unit by unit Maximum Achievable Control Technology standard under the Clean Air Act, will be discussed. It further establishes a 90% reduction requirement and does not allow trading among utilities, in contrast to the previous Clear Skies legislation and the Administration’s Clean Air Mercury Rule. The other two bills both focus on elemental mercury waste.  Sen. Obama’s Mercury Market Minimization Act of 2007, which prohibits any federal agency from conveying, selling, or distributing to any other federal, state, or local agency, or any private individual or entity, any elemental mercury under the control or jurisdiction of such agency, effective 2010 and establishes a Committee that will deal with storage issues. The other is a House bill, the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2007, would ban the export of elemental mercury, prohibit federal agencies from selling or distributing mercury effective 2010, and direct the Department of Energy to provide permanent storage for domestic stocks of mercury.  This passed the House by a voice vote on the suspension calendar.

The hearing next week will be the first time the EPW full committee has focused on mercury reduction legislation since the Democrats gained the majority in the Senate. As chairman of the EPW Committee, Senator Inhofe twice introduced legislation to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury from power plants by 70 percent by 2016 through expanding the successful Acid Rain Trading Program. In fact, the Clear Skies bill was the most aggressive presidential initiative in history to reduce power plant pollution and provide cleaner air across the country. Unfortunately, Democrats chose to obstruct this important bill, denying the American people a major environmental victory.

Tuesday’s hearing will likely mirror many of the same arguments that were discussed at last year’s Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Hearing on the State of Mercury Regulation, Science, and Technology. Senator Inhofe, in his opening statement said:

- Since 1970, we have had tremendous economic growth, and tripled our energy use and vehicle miles traveled. Despite this, instead of tripling our pollution or doubling or even holding it constant, we have cut our pollution levels by more than half. This is a success story that – hard as it is to believe – few people even realize is true. This gets to the heart of my greatest concern over the mercury debate. Few understand it, and some have preyed upon that lack of understanding. We are literally scaring ourselves to death over mercury. A few years ago, when EPA and the FDA issued a joint advisory on mercury and environmentalists turned up their alarmist rhetoric, tuna consumption plummeted. People became afraid to eat fish because they believed it was bad for them. Let’s be clear: all seafood has some level of mercury – always has and always will. It is an element, pervasive in the environment and bioaccumulative. The question is not whether mercury causes birth defects and even kills in high doses – it does. The question is whether it’s harmful in extremely low quantities. According to the biggest, best designed and longest running study ever done, the answer is a resounding “NO.”  What most people do not realize is that is that the dose makes the poison. Fish is brain food. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces colon and lung cancers and numerous other ailments, and aids brain development in the womb. The Seychelles Islands study found that, even though their seafood-rich diet meant they consumed more mercury than Americans, eating the seafood was beneficial. Let me repeat: by discouraging people from eating fish, we are literally scaring them to death. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t make progress in bringing down mercury levels. We should and we are. But we need to put the issue in perspective.

-Like other pollutants, mercury levels have also come down dramatically. Numerous industries that used to emit high levels of mercury, such as the municipal waste incinerators, have been controlled. The power sector industry is merely the latest industry to be regulated. And the regulations are significant – the Clean Air Mercury Rule will reduce power plant mercury emissions by 70 percent. And because the rule acts in coordination with the Clean Air Implementation Rule – which reduces SO2, NOx, and particulate matter – it can be done for $2 billion.While there are many promising technologies on the horizon, some of which we will hear about today, no technology exists for which vendors will guarantee 90 percent mercury reductions, and some of these technologies are not appropriate for plants that are already controlled. According to the Energy Information Administration, setting a 90% reduction mandate on mercury over three years would cost up to $358 billion. That’s right – cutting 70% will cost $2 billion, but incrementally increasing that amount to beyond what the technologies can reliably do would cost up to $358 billion.”

-We all agree that reducing pollution levels in this country is important and that more can be done. But we cannot let political preferences let us lose sight of the fact that diverting enormous economic resources to this comparatively smaller problem away from the important mission of bringing ozone and soot levels into compliance with existing law is wrong-headed. And we cannot lose sight of the fact that this scaremongering is doing more harm to the health of our citizens than the very small incremental reductions that tightening the mercury standard further would achieve.


Panel 1

Robert J. Meyers
Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator
Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Panel 2

Lisa P. Jackson
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Dr. Michael Durham PhD
Officer and Board Member
Institute of Clean Air Companies

Dr. Steven A. Benson
Senior Research Manager/Advisor
Energy and Environment Research Center, The University of North Dakota

Dr. Leonard Levin PhD
Technical Executive, Air Quality Health & Risk Assessment
Electric Power Research Institute

Vickie Patton
Deputy General Counsel, Climate and Air Program
Environmental Defense Fund

Panel 3

Dr. Linda Greer PhD
Director, Public Health Program
Natural Resources Defense Council

Arthur Dungan
The Chlorine Institute, Inc.


Inhofe Floor Remarks on Bringing Down Energy Prices

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Senator Inhofe continued to speak out this week, both on the radio and on the Senate Floor, on a common sense approach to bring down the costs of energy – at the gas pump, at the grocery store, and in our homes. In remarks on the Senate Floor on Thursday, May 8, 2008– which can be viewed on You Tube by clicking here – Senator Inhofe made the following points:

-Rather than raise taxes, block production, increase regulations, and call for investigations, I joined with other colleagues last week introducing the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008.

-The bill includes provisions of my Gas PRICE Act which is legislation to improve the permitting process for the expansion of existing and construction of new refineries and establish a 360-day deadline for the approval or disapproval of consolidated permit applications for new refineries and a 120-day deadline for permits to expand an existing refinery.

-The bill will also increase domestic energy by encouraging environmentally sensible drilling in ANWR.  It also allows individual states to decide if drilling should be permitted in their offshore waters. 

-The bill also includes my legislation to repeal Section 526 of the 2007 energy bill which prohibits federal agencies from purchasing fuels from nonconventional sources, which includes petroleum from tar sands in Canada and coal-to-liquid and natural gas-to-liquid fuels.  We need to repeal this section, allow imports from stable regions of the world like Canada, and not prohibit the U.S. military fueling options. 

-One of the issues receiving considerable attention now in Washington, DC is the mandate for corn-based ethanol.

-The 2007 Energy Bill, which I voted against, mandated 36 billion gallons of bio-fuels by 2022. Of this, 15 billion gallons are required from corn based ethanol alone by 2015.  The 2007 energy bill contained an increase in the renewable fuels standard (RFS) from 7.5 to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol alone.

-We are experiencing global food difficulties brought on by wrongheaded environment and energy policies, resulting in decreases in worldwide food availability and increases in food prices. Just a few days ago, I delivered a major speech calling for “dramatic” action to address global food difficulties caused in part by current biofuel mandates. In the speech, I called for two actions to relieve the effects from the current corn ethanol mandate:

-Congress must revisit the recently enacted ethanol mandate, which can only be described as the most expansive mandate in our nation’s history. The mandates were part of last year’s Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

1) EPA has the congressionally-given authority to waive all or portions of these food-to-fuel mandates as part of its rule-making process.

2) The EPA must thoroughly review all options to alleviate the food and fuel disruption of the 2007 Energy Bill ethanol mandates.

Following my speech, on Friday, May 2, 2008, I joined several Senate Republicans in sending a letter to Stephen Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking the EPA to exercise its waiver authority regarding the biofuel mandate. I am encouraged to see a growing number of Senators speaking out on the need to address this very important issue.   

Hearing Statement: Goods Movement on Our Nation's Highways

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thank you, Chairman Boxer.  I appreciate the opportunity to examine the movement of goods on our nation’s highways and its contributions to our future competitive trade advantage with other nations.  There is no denying that the level of commitment to our nation’s infrastructure is directly linked to the United States’ continued place as the world economic leader.   Thus, I am pleased, Madame Chairman, that you have convened this hearing to examine the role of freight movement on our nation’s highways. 

When President Eisenhower first conceived the National Interstate System over 50 years ago he could not have imagined that the nation’s transportation system, once coveted by the world for its innovative planning and connectivity, would be struggling to accommodate the exponential growth in people and goods movement of today.  Much of our industrial success and our rapidly growing GDP is the result of our “just in time economy,” which relies heavily on a free flowing transportation network. Our nation’s roads and bridges move close to $40 billion worth of goods daily, and with that number expected to rapidly increase with the growth in foreign trade and doubling of American port capacity, our infrastructure problem will soon be a crisis.

Our expansive network of highways is operating well above its designed capacity, and as trucks continue to be delayed by congestion, which DOT estimates as an $8 billion loss every year, our economy will suffer. As I have said many times before, current funding of our highway program is barely enough to maintain the system, let alone provide for much needed new comprehensive investment in future infrastructure needs.  We cannot afford to ignore the consequences of barely “maintaining” our transportation networks while the rest of the world continues to spend heavily on bigger and better ways of competing with our once superior highway system.  

The rest of the world is financing new ports, highways, and sophisticated rail networks to attract new commerce, yet we are falling behind.   There is no question that there will be a negative impact on our own industries if we fail to provide a free flowing transportation system.  Today, business has moved away from a warehousing business model to a “just in time” model that depends on getting what they need when they need it.   If we want to encourage our manufacturing industries to stay in this country, one of the things we must do is provide adequate transportation infrastructure. 

Our neighbors to the North and South are committing billions to the construction of new high capacity ports and rail systems specifically to divert foreign cargo trade away from our heavily congested ports in the Northeast and Southern California.  The United States’ economy cannot afford to be outpaced in infrastructure spending by other rapidly growing countries, eager to attract new commerce to their economies. The reliable and free flowing movement of goods on our nation’s highways is, in my opinion, of the strongest federal interest. 

There is no more important role of federal government as it relates to transportation than to address the needs that affect the vitality of our interstate commerce, and our economy as a whole.  As we gear up for re-authorization of the Highway Bill, it is critical that we explore the ideas of a new national freight movement program. It is time for a new vision on how we address the exponential growth of goods movement, and I think it is time to seriously consider a separate program dedicated to freight.

As we begin reauthorization discussions, my hope is that we will be able to work together in developing solutions to our critical transportation infrastructure needs which may include making bold changes to the traditional federal highway program.

Hearing Statement: Oversight Hearing on Science and Environmental Regulatory Decisions

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Subcommittee on Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, and Children's Health Protection

Good morning.  Today’s hearing will focus on science and how it is used in environmental regulatory decisions.  I have always believed that one of the primary responsibilities of this committee is to ensure that regulatory decisions are based on sound science. Too often the environmental policy decisions made by EPA and other science-based agencies are driven by political or personal agendas. You see this in types of research that gets funded or the types of grants that get awarded. It is my hope that this hearing will help shed some light on how science is used by policy-makers and that we can arrive at some concrete suggestions for making the process better.  

I believe that there are some success stories that need to be discussed here today. Generally speaking, addressing lead exposure is one of the great American success stories. According to data from the CDC and others, the median concentration of lead in the blood of children 5 years old and under has declined 89% since the period of 1976-1980, to 1.6 micrograms per deciliter in 2003-2004.   Another example is EPA’s recent changes to the Integrated Risk Information System.  These changes allow the public to be involved in the risk assessment process sooner.  Now, environmental groups, scientists, and the regulated community can provide data, research, and comments on risk assessments before they are finalized.  Additionally, there is now a concerted outreach effort to members of the scientific community and more rigorous peer review.  I understand that there are those on this committee who believe this is somehow stifling EPA scientists or putting politics into the scientific process.  But I don’t understand how someone can stand up and say they support public right-to-know, scientific community participation, and transparency when the Agency makes regulatory decisions but not support those very same principles when it comes to risk assessment.  More science means better decisions—more defensible decisions. 

Today’s hearing will also address case studies of the importance of science in regulatory decision-making, with a focus on clean air issues and children’s health. However, in the rush to try and dissect these individual cases and lay blame on whether science was adhered to properly or not, the bigger picture message gets lost. Our air is cleaner than it ever has been before; the levels of the six criteria pollutants are continuing to decline, air toxics monitoring is expanding and reductions in benzene, acid rain, and haze are contributing to significant improvements in air quality and environmental health.  However, despite these improvements, in the last 2 years, EPA has significantly strengthened or proposed to strengthen 3 of the 6 criteria pollutants, all driven by citizen suits and court ordered deadlines, and the agency once again has been attacked by stakeholders on both sides for doing so. Reduction levels are now being debated so intensely and at such marginal levels that one must stop and consider if there ever will be a level requisite to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety that will satisfy the critics. Instead, we are left with a brand new web of economic burdens that we are passing on to the states, many of which are just now beginning to make real improvements from the previous strengthening. What we have are more environmental regulations hindering environmental progress. 

I am pleased to recognize Dr. McClellan, a past Chair of the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, who has detailed the many flaws and questionable approaches taken in justification of the recent final ozone rule, as well as the 2006 PM rule and others. I look forward to his comments on how the science panel often no longer offers its judgment of the scientific integrity of the process, but its policy opinions. 

Thank you, Madam Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses this morning.


Hearing Statement: Oversight Hearing on Perchlorate and TCE in Water

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Madam Chairman, thank you for calling the hearing today on perchlorate and trichloroethylene in water.  This hearing is oversight in nature; however, the hearing will also focus on the legislative proposals found in S. 24, the “Perchlorate Monitoring and Right-to-Know Act of 2007,” S. 150, the “Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Perchlorate Act of 2007,” and S. 1911, the “TCE Reduction Act of 2007.”  I am opposed to all three of these pieces of legislation.

Each bill assumes that the scientific data and findings are complete and that they require the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a Maximum Contaminant Level, or MCL, within a specified amount of time for both perchlorate and TCE.  My concern isn’t that these chemicals may be harmful to human health at a certain level, but rather that politicians feel compelled to introduce legislation forcing EPA’s hand on what could become a “contaminant of the month” scenario without scientific backing. It should also be noted that TCE already has a set MCL based on principals outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.    

In 1996, under leadership of Chairman Chaffee and Ranking Member Baucus, Congress was successful in amending the Safe Drinking Water Act in such a way as to force the EPA to set standards if the contaminants “have known health effects,” are “known to occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern,” and will “provide EPA the opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by a public water system.”  The legislative approach taken in S. 24, S. 150, and S. 1911 is simply politicians meddling in the scientific process clearly laid out in the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Mike Baker from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will speak on behalf of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators about the current process and the concern of legislating contaminants rather than following the process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

However, I agree that it is very important for our government to act in a timely manner as to produce reasonable and prudent regulations only when necessary for public health protection.  It is no secret that the scientific process can be tedious and cumbersome, but that in itself is no reason for political interference. Our government must ensure that decisions are based on sound, transparent science and provide our constituents with easy-to-interpret information.

I also believe it is imperative for the American public to be able to understand health risk and exposure information so they can make more informed judgments as to what toxins or contaminants might actually pose a health risk to them or their children. Today we will hear numbers being referenced to in micrograms and parts per billion.  The American public, not to mention myself, may have a difficult time comprehending these terms and their significance.  It is vital for the scientific information the tax payers pay for is portrayed in a way that allows for cognitive decisions to be made in context. 

Again, thank you for calling this hearing and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.



Democrats Political Science Hypocrisy

May 6, 2008

Senate Democrats claimed on Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was “foot-dragging” when it comes to deciding whether or not to regulate perchlorate. The latest political posturing occurred during todays EPW Committee hearing entitled “Perchlorate and TCE in Water.” Legislation discussed at today hearing is designed to circumvent the EPA’s regulatory process. Democrats seem to believe that the political process, not the scientific process, should decide what gets regulated and when.

FACT: In circumventing the EPA regulatory process, Democrats would limit public comment and review as well as force EPA to accept scientific findings without the opportunity to weigh important science and data collected over the past several years by the EPA, FDA, CDC, and NAS.

There is a better way to govern – as Congress concluded in 1996. Under leadership of Chairman Chaffee and Ranking Member Baucus, Congress was successful in amending the Safe Drinking Water Act in such a way as to force the EPA to set standards if the contaminants “have known health effects,” are “known to occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern,” and will provide EPA "the meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by a public water system.” 

At the hearing, Mike Baker from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency testified on behalf of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators about the current process and the concern of legislating contaminants rather than following the process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators are responsible for carrying out the Safe Drinking Water Act and the subsequent regulations and programs enacted to help safeguard the quality of America’s drinking water.  

Baker stated in his opening statement today that:

“An underlying tenant of the Act, we believe, is that environmental and public health standard-setting and review should be driven by sound science…” 

“…as a general matter, we believe the science-based decision-making processes of the Act should be allowed to function as envisioned.  We are concerned about the precedent of using legislative action that supersedes the provisions of the statute for particular contaminants and contaminant categories…”

“Unless a balanced, rational, and transparent approach is used, we’re concerned that EPA will jump from one contaminant to another -- based on media and political attention -- rather than on the potential for meaningful public health gains.”  

The discussion of the politicization of the science couldn’t be timed any better, considering Democrats will hold another hearing this week taking aim at the Bush Administration for politicizing science. As Senator Bond states in his opening statement from today’s hearing, that before Democrats throw stones tomorrow, they should examine the glass house they are living in today. Bond states:

“Madame Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. This hearing allows us to examine the politicization of environmental protection, attempts to roll back environmental law and the disregard of scientific study. Some may think that I am one day early. That is the goal of tomorrow’s hearing as I understand it. However, I would say that before stones are thrown tomorrow, we should examine the glass house some are living in today. Part of the purpose of this hearing is to establish the need for a bill currently before the Senate, S. 150. That legislation would require EPA to issue regulations on perchlorate levels in drinking water. Sponsors of this legislation are well meaning. They have the best interests of their constituents at heart, but they fail to acknowledge that their effort is the very definition of political regulation. It is politicians here in the Senate dictating the outcome of EPA’s environmental decisionmaking.”

Sen. Bond then shows illustrates how Democrats pick and choose their science.

“The Safe Drinking Water Act now includes a specific process designed to protect public health. The law specifically requires risk assessment and the use of science in decisionmaking. Under the law, the Administrator must present information to the public and conduct a health risk reduction and cost analysis. But advocates would sweep that environmental law aside and go straight to the conclusion they favor. Apparently, rolling back environmental laws are ok with them if and when they choose. This effort also includes a minimization of the work of the National Academy of Sciences. Witnesses will tell us today why we should not follow the natural conclusions of an NAS study on perchlorate. But how many times have we heard charges of heeding the advice of political figures instead of peer reviewed science? Indeed, two weeks ago, an NAS study by the National Research Council was heralded when it determined that short-term exposure to ozone is likely to cause premature death in some cases. Two weeks later when the NAS is not so helpful, it becomes an inconvenient truth to be minimized or discounted.”

The inconvenient fact for Senate Democrats is that today's hearing highlighted their record of meddling in the scientific process.    


Senators Call on EPA to Act on Rising Food and Feed Prices by Waiving Ethanol Mandates

On Friday, May 2, 2008, Senator Inhofe (R-Okla), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, joined several Senate Republicans in sending a letter to Steve Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking the EPA to exercise its waiver authority regarding the biofuel mandate.

The letter states:

“Congress gave the EPA authority to waive all or portions of these mandates, as well as rule-making authority to structure the mandates for the benefit of all Americans. We believe the EPA should begin the process of examining alternatives to ease severe economic and emerging environmental consequences that are developing in America as a result of the mandate…

“American families are feeling the financial strain of these food-to-fuel mandates in the grocery aisle and are growing more concerned about the emerging environmental concerns of growing corn-based ethanol. It is essential for the EPA to respond quickly to the consequences of these mandates. Congress made the mandates in the EISA different from existing mandates to provide flexibility and to encourage innovation in advanced and cellulosic fuels. We believe today’s circumstances merit the use of this flexibility.”

As noted on the Inhofe EPW Press Blog last week, momentum appears to be growing on Capitol Hill to revisit the increased ethanol mandate signed into law last December.  In addition to Sen. Inhofe’s Senate floor speech on April 29, several Senators have spoken out on the need to take action regarding the ethanol mandate.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the letter in its May 3 article, “Corn Ethanol Loses More Support,” noting:

“Rising food prices are prodding lawmakers in Washington to rethink support for corn ethanol. Two dozen Republican senators on Friday -- including Republican presidential candidate John McCain (R., Ariz.) -- asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ease requirements mandated by Congress in 2007 to blend more ethanol and other renewable fuels into the gasoline supply. The lawmakers said the mandates are contributing to a sharp increase in food prices. Sen. McCain has been a critic of ethanol subsidies. ‘With the price of everyday meat, chicken, bread and eggs rapidly increasing, we are asking the EPA to use the flexibility that Congress gave them, because so many families cannot afford the increasing prices at the grocery store,’ said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas). An EPA spokesman couldn't be reached to comment. EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said the agency "will review waiver requests and respond according to the law." The move by the Republican Senate group is the latest sign that Washington's support for turning corn into motor fuel is wavering in the face of soaring food prices, despite the popularity of ethanol subsidies in farm states critical to the November election.”

Today, the Associated Press reports that both Democratic Presidential nominees addressed the issue over the weekend. The AP article, “Obama: Change in ethanol policy might be needed” quotes Senators Obama and Clinton:

Senator Obama: “‘What I've said is my top priority is making sure people are able to get enough to eat. If it turns out we need to make changes in our ethanol policy to help people get something to eat, that has got to be the step we take,’said Obama, D-Ill., on NBC's ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘We have rising food prices around the United States. In other countries, we're seeing riots because of the lack of food supply, so this is something we're going to have to deal with,’ he said.”

Senator Clinton: “Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaking on ABC's ‘This Week,’ agreed the issue needs closer review. ‘What we need to do is accelerate the research into farm waste and into other cellulosic plant materials. Because, I think, instead of using the corn, let's figure out if we can use the corn cob,’ she said. ‘Let's figure out if we can use the corn stalk. Let's figure out what other kind of food, you know, waste we can use.’” Clinton added: ‘In the short run, we've got to work with our farmers and with like-minded people around the world to figure out how this increasing use in biofuels, which is part of our answer to our dependence on foreign oil, does not undermine food production and really accelerate the prices.’”


In Case You Missed It...Sponsors lower expectations for Lieberman-Warner bill


Sponsors lower expectations for Lieberman-Warner bill (05/08/2008)

Darren Samuelsohn, E&E Daily senior reporter

Link to Article (Subscription Required)

Senate sponsors of a major global warming bill lowered expectations yesterday on their chances for final passage as aides scrambled behind the scenes to complete a revamped version of the legislation before next month's scheduled floor debate.

Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) shrugged off suggestions she is having trouble winning over moderates and conservatives from either party in her quest to find 60 votes and squash an inevitable filibuster.

"To tell you the truth, we don't know if we'll wind up getting 60 votes this time," Boxer said in an interview. "But we do believe we're making tremendous progress and we're going to start the debate."

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who provided a critical swing vote for the climate bill last winter when it moved out of the EPW Committee, provided a similar assessment. "I don't think we can count on 60 at this point," he said...

Warner yesterday said he was looking for changes before the floor debate that would allow the president to "pull back the throttle" if the legislation's emission targets cannot be met with available technology, or if the U.S. economy was under stress through, for example, $5 a gallon gasoline.

Boxer has also promised several changes to the bill, including a "deficit reduction" amendment, as well as greater oversight of the carbon markets and specific funding directed toward cities to help promote energy efficiency and mass transit.

Many demands

The Lieberman-Warner-Boxer camp is facing increasing demands from all corners of the Senate to change the bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system with midcentury emission limits of 70 percent below 2005 levels.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week he was holding out in his support for the Lieberman-Warner bill because it did not do enough to protect his home state's manufacturing jobs while still stimulating investments in alternative energy. "I have serious concerns about any climate-change bill that doesn't take into account energy-intensive industries like we have in Ohio -- glass and chemicals and steel and aluminum and foundries," Brown said.

"He's concerned," Brown spokeswoman Joanna Kuebler explained yesterday. "He's leaning toward a no."

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said in an interview that she is also pushing for changes in the Lieberman-Warner bill to benefit her home state's abundant supplies of hydropower. "We want to make sure people who are already good at reducing CO2 emissions will continue to do that and not be penalized," she said...

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he wants a more beneficial emission allocation system for his state's rural energy producers.

"Obviously, I represent a state that's a significant power producer," Conrad said. "Most people don't think of North Dakota that way. But we produce electricity for nine states. We have the largest coal gasification plant in the country. We have very large reserves of lignite coal."

In contrast, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) maintained that he is a long way from backing the Lieberman-Warner bill...

"It's a more realistic approach to what technology is going to be required," Nelson said. "Just legislating it, doesn't get you there."...

Back in Washington, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) spoke on the Senate floor yesterday on a different method for using what are projected to be hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue raised through an auction of emission credits. Gregg suggested the auction revenue could go toward reducing personal income taxes, as opposed to its current function with Lieberman-Warner, which ranges from research and development of new energy technologies to helping low-income energy consumers.

"This should not be a windfall that expands the size of federal government," Gregg said. "It's not right to do that."