Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2010

STEERING CLEAR OF A 'HALF-ASSED ENERGY BILL'.... Speaking to Senate Democrats this morning, President Obama singled out the tri-partisan energy bill being crafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). He praised them for "coming together to try to find a workable, bipartisan structure" for reforming the status quo.

"Don't give up on that," Obama urged senators. "I don't want us to just say the easy way out is for us to just give a bunch of tax credits to clean energy companies. The market works best when it responds to price. And if they start seeing that, you know what, dirty energy is a little pricier, clean energy is a little cheaper, they will innovate, and they will think things through in all kinds of innovative ways."

The opposition, however, remains diverse, and approving anything will be more difficult thanks to Massachusetts' recent lapse in judgment. There's growing talk among center-right Democrats that they kill the tri-partisan energy bill and replace it with a thinner, less meaningful package that ignores caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

It's hard to believe, but Lindsey Graham's take on this, criticizing the half-measure, has real merit.

"It's the 'kick the can down the road' approach," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "It's putting off to another Congress what really needs to be done comprehensively. I don't think you'll ever have energy independence the way I want until you start dealing with carbon pollution and pricing carbon. The two are interconnected." [...]

"If the approach is to try to pass some half-assed energy bill and say that's moving the ball down the road, forget it with me," Graham said, adding that the energy-only proposal does not do enough to promote nuclear power and it ignores revenue sharing for states that agree to offshore oil and gas exploration. [...]

"We've done things on the energy side, we've got some buy-in from people on the left and the middle that I never dreamed of," he said. "I just hope we don't blow it. And from a Republican point of view, you've got the best chance you'll ever have to get meaningful energy independence. From the Democratic left point of view, you've got the best chance you'll ever have to have carbon pollution controls. Don't let [the opportunity] pass."

I don't agree with Graham often, but that's good advice.

For what it's worth, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters yesterday that he'd like to see the final language on Kerry/Graham/Lieberman fairly soon, with hopes for a floor debate in the Spring.

Steve Benen 3:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (4)

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I'd like to see a concerted effort at blending an energy bill with a jobs bill.

For example: Combine hydrofracting of shale with geothermal plants, using the waste water to heat "cleaner" water while at the same time, tapping the natural gas resource. The off-shoots of such technology could be applied elsewhere, vastly increasing our geothermal usage.

Yeah, tapping the gas isn't carbon neutral, but if we increase geothermal, it could become "carbon-neutral." Obviously this is a hare-brained idea, but it could yield massive amounts of real jobs and address energy concerns.

Our problem is we are stuck with fossil thinking in an increasingly post-fossil fuel era.

Another masssive jobs/energy project could be a systemic overhaul of our waste stream; converting all manner of sh*t, piss, and other organic wastes into biofuels.

We don't think this way because we don't have to.

To move forward with a decent energy bill will require an energy summit.

To get to our future, some of us have to start living (and thinking) 50 years in the future now. Otherwise, how else will humankind evolve?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 3, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Graham talks the talk but in fact it is largely as a result of his efforts and the efforts of like-minded corporate stooges in the Senate that we ARE going to have a "half-assed" energy bill: a bill that does nothing to limit carbon pollution, does a little to support clean, renewable energy and efficiency; and does a whole lot to subsidize the oil, coal and nuclear corporations who are the cause of the problem.

The Senate should Pass the Damn Waxman-Markey Bill.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 3, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

While I support the tripartisan effort, I do not support cap and trade. The tripartisan bill aims to reduce emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. And they are considering how to do cap and trade. The problem with the Waxman-Markey approach is that it is hard to verify emissions reductions and check additionality. It also lets Wall Street speculate on this and create another $2-3 trillion asset bubble. The Senate needs to limit cap and trade like the Cantwell-Collins bill.

Posted by: James Hewin on February 4, 2010 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

If Huckleberry is talking sense about energy policy, it must be he has concluded this Senate term will be his last.

Posted by: bob h on February 4, 2010 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK



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