Hi! I’m back. And — if you’ll indulge me in a little whining — I’m sick as a dog, woefully behind on the news, buried under work, and just generally frazzled and bedraggled and haggard. And what’s with time zones? They’re stupid. Woe is me, I tell you.

I wanted to do a quick post about my D.C. trip, though, which was a blast. Of course the party was great. Somebody (me?) will probably do a separate post about that later. But aside from that, I ran around town meeting all sorts of interesting people — congressional staffers, members of Congress, NGO folk, etc.

Most of what I learned news-wise is already out of date. Things are moving quickly in Congress on the energy front.

For what it’s worth, most of my discussions were with House people, and they were about the atrocious bill proposal puked up by the Energy Committee under the leadership of Dingell and Boucher — big subsidies for CTL, no CAFE boost until 2020, and to boot, federal ability to pre-empt state-level auto efficiency rules. You can read about the bordering-on-fisticuffs meeting of House Dems it prompted here. My general sense is that the Pelosi/Waxman faction was surprised how awful it was, and the Dingell/Boucher faction was surprised how strong and immediate the pushback was. So they’ve gone back to the drawing board. But honestly, if this bill is as awful as it is, what can we expect from a cap-and-trade system out of that committee? One shudders.

Another thing I heard from multiple sources is this: the horrendous crap in Dingell’s bill will never become law. There are too many lawmakers on the side of good and right at this point. So clearly he’s up to something devious, but nobody’s sure exactly what it is. Is it just about holding CAFE hostage? Couldn’t he have struck some deal rather than using blunt force trauma like this?

I was also reassured that yes, there are plenty of lawmakers who realize that liquid coal is a dead end, and they plan to fight it. The general take on the coal industry is this: we’ll give you big money to research sequestration for IGCC plants. But not CTL. Don’t get greedy.

I’d be surprised if big CTL subsidies make it into a House bill. Of course the Senate is another matter, and the conference committee is another matter after that. Things are developing quickly. I’m going to try to catch back up now.