For days I’ve been hearing that some kind of deal is imminent on the energy bill. There was talk that the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) was going to get dropped, perhaps to be attached to some other bill, and that the production tax credit (PTC) for wind and solar was going overboard, along with rescinding subsidies to oil and gas companies. That would have left a pretty sad bill, notable mainly for a boost in CAFE and enormous subsidies to ethanol.

Anyway, some qualified good news. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now has a brief statement on her site alluding a deal that’s been reached:

CAFE will serve as the cornerstone of the energy legislation that will be on the House floor next week. We will achieve the major goal of increasing vehicle efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon in 2020 …

This comprehensive package will also include an increase in the Renewable Fuels Standard and a Renewable Electricity Standard, among other key provisions.

There’s no word on the PTC, but I hear a minimal PTC (rather than the 10-year extension the industry sought) will be part of the bill. It looks like reversing subsidies to oil and gas has been dropped — it was one of the biggest points of contention and the focus of Bush’s veto threat. (Also gone, from what I can see, are the odious nuclear loan guarantees.)

This is not an ideal energy bill by any stretch of the imagination, but (assuming it passes and gets by Bush) it’s a big, positive step, one worth celebrating. Three points I’d make:

  1. Love him or hate him, this bill is possible because Dingell hashed out a CAFE compromise he could accept, and brought a whole passel of lawmakers with him.
  2. Everyone I’ve talked to that’s in or around the process says the same thing: Nancy Pelosi is a hero on this bill. She gets this stuff in her gut. It’s in large part her work and persistence that have made it happen.
  3. When the Republicans had the presidency and both houses of Congress, it took them three tries to pass an energy bill, the result was a pork-bloated monstrosity, and even then they didn’t get everything they wanted. Passing a huge bill like this is difficult work. If the Dems pull it off in one session, with slim majorities, they deserve some credit.

We’ll see what happens next week. Sing it, Biz.