The Bush administration’s intransigence on climate change and energy use has been widely lamented. But part of me thinks it may turn out to be a good thing in the long run.

Why? Because it’s driving states to innovate energy policy.

"In a way, the left is controlling that agenda," said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of the energy program at Rice University in Houston. "They’re just implementing it at the community and state level."

Saying “the left” is slightly misleading, since although most states passing their own energy policies are blue, many have Republican governors — indeed, many of the policies are being driven by Republican governors, including Schwarzenegger in California and Pataki in New York.

In fact, I’d guess that citizens of almost any state would welcome these sorts of policies; they are not, strictly speaking, "partisan." Energy policy becomes partisan at the national level through the influence of industry lobbies.

But as the states go, so eventually goes the federal government. It just takes time.