"That's not going to happen," said the adviser, Carol Browner.
Browner made the statement at a conference organized by The Atlantic magazine, just days after Senate Democrats introduced a major bill on climate change. In a video posted on the magazine's Web site, Browner was asked about the prospects of enacting climate legislation by the time negotiations on a global climate treaty begin in December in Copenhagen.
"Obviously, we'd like to be through the process, but that's not going to happen," Browner said. "I think we would all agree the likelihood you would have a bill signed by the president on comprehensive energy by the time we go early in December is not likely."
Senate Democrats unveiled a bill Wednesday that aims to cut greenhouse gasses by 20 percent by 2020. The House passed a bill in June that calls for a 17 percent emission cut by 2020.
The Senate bill includes an economy-wide cap-and-trade system that would require power plants, industrial facilities and refineries to cut carbon dioxide and other climate-changing pollution. While there would be an overall emission cap, polluters would be able to purchase emission allowances to limit reductions. The bill, however, does not lay out how emission allowances would be distributed, a contentious issue left for resolving later.
Climate change is competing with several other big issues for the attention of lawmakers. Among the issues: overhauling the nation's health care system and imposing new financial regulations on Wall Street.
Browner said the U.S. could still take a leading role at the Copenhagen talks, even without a new climate law.
"We will go to Copenhagen and manage with whatever we have," she said.
On the Net:
The Atlantic: http://tinyurl.com/yd3jad5