The bloc says it does not want Senate leaders to excise what liberals consider the core element of energy reform, The Hill reported Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he plans to include provisions that address the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and deep-water drilling regulation in the energy package, but he declined to commit to including language on climate change.
Some of the biggest critics of offshore drilling within the Democratic caucus say they may not vote for the energy bill if it doesn't contain provisions that would require the oil industry to pay for carbon pollution.
"It's hard to imagine that I would support it" without a provision that would charge a fee for carbon emissions, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said after Democrats met Thursday to discuss energy legislation.
"At some point there has to be an incentive to limit emissions," said Lautenberg, adding that he and other Democrats believe a carbon emissions fee would make renewable energy technology more competitive.
"The foundation of any serious comprehensive energy bill is placing a price on carbon pollution so the polluters can't keep doing it for free," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Other senators, particularly from coal-producing states, such as John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, say they haven't been persuaded about supporting a carbon cap.