Leaders of some of the country’s most influential green groups are moving cash and staff away from cap and trade after Congress’ failure to secure climate and energy legislation, reports Politico.com.

Environment America, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists, with more than 2.5 million members combined, now consider it their top job to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to write climate rules against attacks in the courts and on Capitol Hill.

The groups also are hoping to defend and expand on state and regional climate laws and compacts, including a carbon market for power plants operating in the Northeast and emerging systems in the West. And they will work at the state public utility commission level to make carbon dioxide emissions a crux in reviewing permits for new and existing coal-fired power plants.

The Sierra Club is spending $18 million and has 100 people across the country working on challenges to coal-fired electricity, said Michael Brune, the group’s executive director. He hopes to increase the budget to $25 million next year.

“We don’t think we can fight climate change without getting a comprehensive, economy-wide cap,” Brune said. “At the same time, we think in the short term, more significant gains can be achieved by focusing on other strategies.”

Some, however, are not ready to shut the door on passing climate change legislation this year — even though Senate Democratic leaders have conceded they lack the votes and have punted on the volatile issue.

Carol Browner, the White House's top energy and environmental adviser said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that President Barack Obama is still committed to pushing the bill through the Senate, and that there was "potential" for the bill to come up in a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) later said on the same program that it's "outrageous" for Democrats to consider passing the bill after the elections.

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Source: Politico.com