Highlight of the Week: Senators Offer 'Tripartisan' Framework for Climate and Energy Legislation

As talks heat up in Copenhagen, leaders stateside are speaking out on behalf of clean energy.

Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), have sent President Obama a letteroutlining their framework for a 'tripartisan' climate and energy bill they believe can win 60 U.S. Senate votes next year.

The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman framework sets a carbon pollution reduction target "in the range of" 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, the same level specified in the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act and named by President Obama as a target to establish U.S. bargaining position in Copenhagen.

"Over the past month, we have been working together to develop consensus on a comprehensive pollution reduction and energy independence plan," the senators said in a letter to the president accompanying the framework. "Support is building to simultaneously create jobs, protect our national security interests, and improve our environment. As you depart for Copenhagen, we wanted to provide an assessment of where we see the debate heading in the United States Senate."

The bill outline alludes to "comprehensive pollution reduction targets that are both environmentally significant and achievable" and affirms confidence in a "market-based system" to reduce carbon pollution and help avoid the worst global warming impacts.

In addition to representing momentum toward passage of a carbon reduction Senate bill in the coming year, the framework may signify a new tenor of pragmatic cooperation in Congress.

"These senators have bypassed the political stalemate on energy and the environment and have found a third way forward,"said Joe Mendelson, global warming policy director for National Wildlife Federation. "This partnership clears a non-partisan path forward in the Senate for 2010. It's refreshing to see senators who are willing to work together and confront the challenges America faces rather than try and score political points while nothing gets done."

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