Until this week, it appeared that Congress might actually pass a constructive bill — its first meaningful energy legislation in six years.
The bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act enjoys support from big business groups and environmentalists alike, and it promises to reduce the nation’s energy costs by as much as $4 billion by 2020.
If it becomes law, the bill would strengthen building codes, create energy-efficiency training programs, mandate energy-efficiency programs for the federal government, and help the private sector reduce its energy costs. Those measures and more would reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change.
A Senate vote on the bill had been expected on Thursday. Then reality struck and inevitable D.C. stupidity rose like a turd in a bathtub.
Eying an opportunity to grandstand, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday filed an amendment to the energy bill that would delay implementation of parts of Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
Then Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) held up passage of the bill on Thursday, demanding that a vote on another Obamacare-related amendment be cast before anybody could vote on the energy bill. And Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) filed two amendments to the energy bill: one to block the EPA from issuing carbon emission rules for power plants, a second to block the federal government from considering the social cost of carbon when it crafts regulations. And Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) wants to add an amendment that would approve Keystone XL. From Politico:
The predicament is exactly what the energy bill’s sponsors, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), had tried for months to avoid. They spent much of the summer trying to ensure that their widely supported bill wouldn’t become hostage to divisive amendments on topics like Keystone and EPA regulations.
We’ll let you know how this tangled mess unfolds.
Get Grist in your inbox