Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman
A Democrat and a Republican, working together. Weird.
U.S. Senate

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have come up with an energy-efficiency bill that they think has a real chance of passing the U.S. Senate. And then the U.S. House. In this Congress. Really!

From Politico:

The legislation, known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, focuses on improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings, the manufacturing sector and the federal government.

Among other things, the bill strengthens building codes to make new homes and buildings more efficient, creates a new Energy Department program called SupplySTAR to improve the efficiency of companies’ supply chains and requires the federal government — the country’s largest energy user — to adopt strategies to conserve the electricity used for computers.

It’s a scaled-back version of a bill they introduced last year. To preempt conservative objections, it drops a provision that would have expanded a Department of Energy loan program. After Solyndra, “Department of Energy loan program” is not a phrase Republicans are warm to.

A bipartisan duo — Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) — will be pushing a similar bill in the House.

More from Politico:

“As we see a divided Congress, it’s nice to see something that we can agree on. I think this bill is one of them,” Portman told POLITICO in a joint interview with Shaheen ahead of the bill’s official release. “We’re optimistic that we can make progress in the Senate in the short run and get it through the House in the next year and then get it signed into law.”

The bill’s success is far from certain, but the senators say they’ve taken every precaution to prevent the measure from going down in flames.

Over the course of months-long negotiations, the senators have won the buy-in of more than 200 organizations, from the Union of Concerned Scientists to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce … [to] the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alliance to Save Energy and the National Association of Manufacturers.

According to a press release from Shaheen and Portman, “A study [PDF] by experts at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that last year’s version would have saved consumers $4 billion [a year] by 2020 and helped businesses add 80,000 jobs to the economy.”

It’s not a price on carbon, but hey, it’s a start.