It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m not particularly sanguine about the politics of the next two years. Here, just for kicks and giggles, is one unpleasant scenario I’ve been contemplating a lot recently.
Say the White House seriously tries to push this Clean Energy Standard that Obama proposed in his State of the Union. (He’s meeting about it today with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.) After all, several Republicans, including Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Richard Lugar (Ind.), have signaled a willingness to consider it. After all, he opened the bidding with an enormous concession — that “clean coal,” nukes, and natural gas should be included. After all, he didn’t mention the dread subject of climate change, which as we all know is “divisive.” Surely after all these signals Republicans will meet him in the middle and try to make serious policy.
So here’s how it goes down. Republicans hint at possibly being on board, only … they want EPA authority over CO2 reversed. Only … they want additional subsidies for “clean coal.” Only … they want supercritical coal plants without any carbon sequestration to count as “clean coal.” Only … they want more subsidies and regulatory favors for nuclear power. Only … they want EPA not to regulate natural-gas fracking. Only …
Over the course of months of flirting and will-they-or-won’t-they, Republicans get Democrats to signal that they are willing to make some or all of these concessions in order to get a deal.
In the end, Republicans pull their support, there’s no deal, no policy, and the net effect of the experience is that Democrats are on record as being willing to compromise away what’s left of clean energy policy.
Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? Let’s just hope some lessons were learned last time around.
(I’m in D.C. right now, running around between meetings and events, which explains the sparse posting. For now, my Twitter stream is the best way to keep up with my adventures. I’ll have some substantive posts next week — lots to talk about!)