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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) signaled she would oppose any attempt by the Democratic leadership to possibly merge energy legislation and a cap-and-trade bill on the Senate floor this year. Lumping two very controversial pieces of legislation into a single-bill strategy will make final passage very difficult, said the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The energy bill is expected to address a number of contentious issues, including federal siting of electric transmission facilities, drilling in the previously banned areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and a renewable energy standard (see NGI, March 9). Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has indicated that energy and cap-and-trade legislation should be dealt with separately. Cap-and-trade "[is] not as ready for prime time in my opinion," he said. Murkowski said she and her staff are working in a bipartisan fashion with Bingaman and his staff on a comprehensive energy bill that they hope to mark up by the end of March.

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