The biggest maritime oil spill was not enough to get U.S. senators to agree on a scaled-back energy bill that would have tackled oil exploration and spill cleanup, a top lawmaker said Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the offshore oil drilling reform bill would be delayed to September, after legislators return from their summer August recess, because there is not enough support for it at present.
"We tried ju-jitsu, we tried yoga. We tried everything we can with Republicans to get them to come along with us and be reasonable," Reid said.
"It's a sad day when you can't find a handful of Republicans to support a bill that would create up to 700,000 clean energy jobs, hold BP accountable, and look at a future as it relates to what BP did," said Reid.
The House of Representatives last week approved a version of the bill designed to improve oil exploration techniques and oil spill cleanup.
The main stumbling block in the Senate version was text removing the cap on the compensation oil companies must pay for pollution, currently at just 75 million dollars.
The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill was triggered in April after an explosion ripped through a BP-leased oil rig and unleashed a torrent of toxic crude that sullied coastlines in five states.
"This is not a partisan issue," said John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"This ought to be an American issue where America's elected officials do what's right instead of what's politically advantageous.
"China isn't waiting. They're now the biggest investor, globally, in clean energy and the world's largest market for wind energy. And they are on the verge — they actually announced it the day we had to announce we didn't have 60 votes — that they are setting out to price carbon; they are setting up a domestic carbon pollution reduction program," Kerry added.
Still, Reid remained optimistic that a deal could be ironed out by year's end.
"Some of the best conversations that have been had dealing with energy have been in the last couple weeks," he said adding: "so I think before the end of the year, the answer is absolutely yes, we'll be able to get a nice energy bill done."