WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan said on Tuesday he did not think the Senate would pass climate change legislation this year, but instead would focus on a separate energy bill that would have more bipartisan support.
Dorgan's comments were at odds with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said the Senate this spring would take up a climate change bill to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.
Dorgan, who is in the Senate Democratic leadership, said it would be difficult for the Senate to turn to controversial climate change legislation after going through the contentious health care debate.
"It is my assessment that we likely will not do climate change this year, but will do an energy bill instead," Dorgan told reporters in a telephone conference call.
Dorgan said legislation already cleared by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee would be easier to pass.
That legislation would require more U.S. electricity supplies to be generated from renewable sources like wind and solar, and expand offshore drilling into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which holds an estimated 3.9 billion barrels of oil.
Dorgan said he hoped the full Senate would pass the energy bill by the end of June. That measure would still have to clear the House of Representatives and be signed into law by President Barack Obama before it could take effect.