After contentious Senate committee action on climate change legislation last week, industry and environmental interests are focusing on a select group of Senators who are trying to forge consensus on the heated issue.
Much of the attention will be aimed at Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who are seeking common ground between those who want to curb greenhouse gas emissions and others who fret about the economic consequences.
More broadly, the next round of lobbying will also target the chairmen and ranking members of five other committees that have jurisdiction over the legislation as well as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who will have the final say over what goes into the legislation.
We can now have an adult conversation about the bill, one top energy lobbyist said.
The lobbyist was echoing the displeasure of a number of those who are involved in the legislation about what happened last week when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill that would reduce greenhouses gases 20 percent by 2020.
The committees work was marked by intense partisanship as Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) reported the bill out without any GOP lawmakers present.
Republicans boycotted the hearings after complaining they wanted to see an analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency before proceeding.
Boxer, who accused the Republicans of stalling, invoked committee rules that allowed her to report the bill out with only a majority vote of the Democrats in attendance.
Democrats want to show some progress on the legislation before the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for December in Copenhagen.
Environmental activists had hoped to have legislation completed by the time of the international meeting but have now scaled back their expectations.
The roadblocks to passage of the ambitious bill are formidable and include a weak economy and Democratic nervousness after losses in gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia last week.
Furthermore, much of the public attention as well as that of Democratic Congressional leaders and the White House has been riveted on the massive health care legislation.
Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, a major environmental group that supports climate change legislation, acknowledged the challenges in competing with health care.
It is hard to break through the noise with the public, absolutely, Kreindler said. Nevertheless, he said Senators who are crafting climate change legislation are paying attention to those lobbying on the issue.
Recently, Kerry and Graham authored an op-ed piece in the New York Times in which they outlined principles that would be the groundwork for climate change legislation, including reducing emissions of carbon gases, investing in renewable sources of energy and developing a mechanism to protect businesses from increases in consumer prices.
The two Senators have also been joined by Lieberman, who has worked with Republicans on some issues.
Key members of Senate committees that will be considering the climate change legislation are also getting attention from outside groups.
The World Wildlife Fund is planning to run television ads supporting climate change legislation in Alaska and Arkansas, in part because Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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