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An Energy Bill Without Cap-and-Trade?

Posted Jan 12 2010 3:39pm

“It’s a horrible idea,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the lead author behind the main piece of climate and energy legislation to be taken up in the Senate later this year.

But, as NYT reported today, Senate Democrats like Energy and Natural Resources Chair Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Agriculture Chair Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Policy Chairman Byron Dorgan of North Dakota (among others) believe an energy-only bill (read: a bill that includes investments in renewables, offshore drilling, nuclear, and clean coal, but omits measures such as a renewable energy standard (RES) and cap-and-trade) is the most viable option in what promises to be a difficult election year for Democrats.

The official White House policy, according to Carol Browner, is that a “comprehensive bill” that packages energy investments with climate change measures is still the preferred approach. In an online video chat yesterday, Browner stressed the importance of a comprehensive bill.

With jobs legislation being pushed to the fore and the health care debate far from over, it’s very difficult to imagine a comprehensive bill being taken up for a vote (much less obtaining the required 60 votes) this year. But with the Copenhagen Accord in the books and increasing momentum toward achieving a global treaty, the pressure is on the US to put walk the talk on climate.

Also factoring into the mix is the EPA, which finalized its endangerment finding and is now fully authorized to move forward on its own track to regulate greenhouse gases.

It will be interesting to see if/how EPA leverages this authority to catalyze action in the Senate. EPA has so far been mum on its plans to implement regulation, but this is a development worth keeping an eye on in 2010.

Submitted by Grant Draper, President of FD Element

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