June 20th, 2010
12:33 PM ET
13 years ago

Lieberman: Comprehensive energy bill can be done this year

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/20/art.2shotjoe0620.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Lieberman said Sunday that the Gulf oil spill should be a motivator for passage of a comprehensive energy bill. 'Because the less we depend on oil, the less chance there is of another environmental disaster like this,' Lieberman told CNN's Candy Crowley."]
Washington (CNN) – Echoing President Obama’s Oval Office address to the nation last week, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said Sunday that a comprehensive energy bill can be done during this midterm election year. Lieberman added that he hoped the Gulf oil spill would help motivate lawmakers to support the controversial legislation.

Speaking Tuesday, Obama called the Gulf oil disaster "the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now."

Asked about energy legislation Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Lieberman said a bill “does have a chance and it needs to be done.”

Lieberman, one of two principal architects of an energy bill that includes a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, also suggested that support for his bill is about 10 senators shy of the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.

“There are about 50 senators who want to vote for a strong, comprehensive energy bill that puts a price on carbon pollution,” Lieberman told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “There are about 30 who are set against it and there are 20 undecided. You’ve got to get to 60 to pass anything in the Senate. We need half of the undecided and we can do it.”

The senator added, “And we’ve got to do it. And I hope the spill in the Gulf will motivate us to do it. Because the less we depend on oil, the less chance there is of another environmental disaster like this.”

Asked about a competing bill that does not include a comprehensive cap-and-trade system, Lieberman expressed some openness to a compromise floated by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that would impose a carbon cap only on the energy utilities across the country.

“Yes, I’d like to look at that,” Lieberman said, though he was quick to defend the concept of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.

“If you put a price on the pollution that carbon emits into our atmosphere, then you’re going to create an incentive for hundreds of billions of dollars of private capital to be invested in energy sources and systems that don’t put carbon into the atmosphere – like solar and wind and biomass and nuclear.”

He added, “So we need to put a price on carbon to let the private sector create the jobs and the energy industries we need.”

The independent senator also sounded off on what he sees as causes of the Gulf oil spill.

“The big mistakes made here were made before the accident. The big mistakes were made by the Minerals Management Service of the federal government that has a responsibility to approve oil spill response plans by the oil companies like BP before they’ll let them drill.

“And the plan that BP submitted, we now know, was a joke,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman suggested that the Obama administration should review who is responsible for overseeing different aspects of offshore drilling. The former Democrat pointed out that the U.S. Coast Guard is currently responsible for certifying offshore oil rigs and their spill response plans while the Minerals Management Service, which is part of the Department of Interior, is responsible for regulating subsurface, deep water oil wells.

“I think we’ve got to consolidate that in one agency,” Lieberman told Crowley.

He added, “I put my confidence in the Coast Guard. Let the Coast Guard have broad responsibility for preventing oil spills and then getting ready – better than they obviously were this time – to stop them once they start.”

Filed under: Energy • Joe Lieberman • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Patty Patriot

    All these un-American politicians like lieberman need to be voted out now! Crap & tax will be the final nail in the destruction of America.

    June 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    Socialist Joe.

    June 20, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. marxist dogs are out of control

    Let me interpret for Lieberman – " we are going to slap a massive new layer of taxes on the American people whether they want them or not. The people are not as bright as me and Barack Hussien Obama and they should submit to our superior intellect. We know it will be the final nail in the coffin of the American economy but hey...better a third world cesspool than allowing the American people to mis-spend on things they really need like houses, cars, clothing, food. We will provide all of that, as we see fit "

    June 20, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Lieberman is another old man like McCain and so many others who need to just retire, they have nothing to offer in this 21st century. This country needs to recognize we need young innovative people to move this country forward with real solutions.

    June 20, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Please...Please!!!

    ...tell me how raising gas/diesel fuel and electricity prices is going to help everyday Americans? Many of us are struggling and now this. Who came up with this idea? Sounds like something from the uni-bomber's manifesto!
    This was tried in Europe (you know...the utopia according to many refugees from the 1960's Hippy movement) with almost instant failure.
    This administration is starting to scare me. Those that believe that the leaders of academia can replace our leaders of industry are in for a rude awakening...
    This will even affect bus/train riders (they both run on fuel or electricity last time that I checked.

    June 20, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. David

    BUT, not an end to DADT, ENDA, or DOMA. Way to go! Money and environment over american rights!

    June 20, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Rob in MO

    The oil debacle in the Gulf of Mexico is another reminder that we must reduce our dependancy on fossil fuels, no matter where they come from. We must move to alternative renewable sources of energy as fast as possible. While weak, the current legislation is a step in the right direction.

    June 20, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Augsbee

    Let's see, how much money $$$$$$ will the owners of all those New Energy-Green companies make on government grants in the name of getting us away from oil dependency, clean energy???? $100 million??????? Just like all those people I've met promoting Organic foods, they all make money on government grants, drive expensive cars, live in huge homes and they're salads cost $18.00 and an Organic sandwich costs $9.00 and an Organic drink cost $7.50!!!!!!!! Hello!!!!!! are we so dumb to believe all this???????

    June 20, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. one voice

    The Corporate lobbiests(GOP DRIVEN) will be all over the 30 undecided Senators with their million dollar envelopes.

    June 20, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. charlie from the North

    I have two Senators in Maine who like say they are moderates and work across the isle. This bill is not only good for the country it is very good for places like Maine because we offer the total renewable package: solar, wind tidal, geothermal,wood products. Dear Senators,

    if you are too beholden to the oil lobby don't vote for it, but at least don't vote to filibuster it.

    You will be telling us once again come your next election how "Open minded " you are. Now is your chance to prove it.

    June 20, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. Brian Dodge

    Patty Patriot says in another thread "...bp is responsible for the stopping of the oil leak, this administration is responsible for the clean up" and " Crap & tax will be the final nail in the destruction of America."

    Tell us, Patty, how is the government going to pay to clean up BP's mess without tax money? Cut spending on the war on terror? Cut spending on "No child left behind"? Cut MMS regulators? Cut bank and Wall Street regulation? Cut Social Security? Cut highway spending so even more bridges collapse? Cut spending on illegal immigration?

    Maybe if the GObP hadn't voted $700 billion for the Bush bail out of their fat cat buddies on Wall Street, we might have had money to provide the Coast Guard with technology to deal with deepwater oil spills before it happened. Instead planning ahead, GObpP policy was "drill baby drill", deregulate, stuff the MMS with oil company shills, and when the fat cats had sucked up obscene profits, dump the mess on the rest of us.

    June 20, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. connie for caps

    It's getting rather irksome to hear all these so called' freedom fighters' fighting for the rights of special interest groups, ignoring middle class workers' rights, stomping on the rights of 'the little man to organize and fight for fair wages and safe working conditions, at the same time- these so called, 'freedom fighters; are fighting for big oil to destroy and pollute our environment, they see no inconsistency in shouting "we want our country back" back to what? the last eight years of lies, exploitation and more war the middle east?

    June 20, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Sue

    Due to Obama's restrictions on drilling in the Gulf region--and the incompetence of Obama and his Administration regarding this oil disaster.............

    Just like every where else in our country.......The Democrats are going to get clobbered in November.

    There are THOUSANDS of jobs in the Gulf region that depend on drilling. If a plane goes down, you don't stop all air flight.

    The Obama Admin gave BP a safety award-months before the explosion.

    Obama received more in donations from BP and all other oil companies--then any other politician in the history of our country.

    June 20, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. ib

    Cap and scam; another way for Obama to push his so called green agenda. Wonder how many people will lose jobs because of this thing. How many people will be forced to choose between paying the bill to heat their homes or buying the medicine they need because of this stupid bill.

    June 20, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. snow

    Remember, it was the younger generation that elected nobummer and we do not need these types in DC because they are just as bad or worse. This country cannot afford anymore spending and this cap and tax is just another tax to fund the liberals spending.

    June 20, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Annie

    People like Willy Brown throw out the word "socialist" not even knowing what it means. A while ago, some self-identified socialists in the US were polled and asked if in fact Obama is socialist. They all said "No." Just like the Republicans–"No." Words have meaning, folks. Be sure you know how to use them properly.

    June 20, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Matt

    Joe L. is right but it won't happen. Politicians are too cowardly to do what needs to be done. Too many people are short sighted and selfish to do what needs to be done. We need to invest HEAVILY in alternate energy to prepare our economy for a future where Oil is not the top energy source. If we actually put some of that American ingenuity behind it, we can make the alternate energy sources more than a small fraction of our current energy use. This will take REAL work and REAL change that will have a period of adjustment. Too bad most Americans don't want anything unless its quick and easy and they won't have to change anything about their lives to get it.

    June 20, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. thor

    Lieberman wants to put more workers out of jobs at a time when that is the last thing we need.What good does it do if countries like China and India do not have to follow the same rules that our government is asking us to adopt.?Carbon tax credits is a scheme divised by Al Gore and his buddies in order to make themselves filthy rich at the exspense of average Americans

    June 20, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |