One of my guilty pleasures is the CBS crime show, The Mentalist.  One-time fake psychic Patrick Jane uses his powers of observation and deduction to figure out the answer to the mystery before everyone else.

So here’s the contest for all you would-be environ-Mentalists.  Use your amazing powers of observation and deduction to figure out on what day Obama will sign the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill into law.  The winner gets to write a blog post for Climate Progress — woo hoo!

Remember, the bill has to pass the Senate, go into conference, pass the House and Senate again, and then a few days after that, Obama has the big signing ceremony.

Yes, you could pick “never” but, of course, you’d never collect!  Plus the bill remains a likely prospect since the breakthrough Senate climate partnership between Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) — see E&E News: “At least 67 senators are in play” on climate bill.

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Indeed, with the addition of Sen Lieberman (I-CT) to the bipartisan (tripartisan?) team and the beginning of talks with White House “to discuss a possible compromise” the chances may be greater than ever.  Heck, even the moderate coal-state Democrat Sen. Baucus (D-MT) said last week, “There’s no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation.”

That said, it seems increasingly unlikely that the bill will get to Obama’s desk before the summer.  Indeed, The Washington Times Washington Insight/Energy (sub. req’d) has these remarkable prognosications from a former Senate majority leader and a leading industrial expert:


Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Friday that, judging by the past, Congress’s climate change bill will likely pass within months of next November’s general election.

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Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, said big legislation has historically passed within a few months of a major election and he envisions the same will be true for climate legislation.

“Welfare reform passed within months of an election back in the 90s, so did Medicare Part D — it passed in September of an election year,” Daschle said on a conference call about clean energy and manufacturing. “There are a lot of other examples.”

… But even if the Senate doesn’t advance climate legislation before Copenhagen, that doesn’t mean the legislation won’t be a top priority in the Senate next year, Daschle said.“Contrary to conventional wisdom, a lot can be done in 2010,” he added.

Peter Molinaro, vice president of federal and state government affairs for Dow Chemical, said during the call that he agreed with Daschle’s predictions. Molinaro said that in the past, most major environmental legislation has also passed within 90 days on either side of a general election.

He added that ultimately the controversial legislation will pass just like the contentious amendments to the Clean Air Act did in 1990.

The climate legislation and Clean Air Act amendments are in “many ways a parallel — high complexity, strong regional differences and way beyond partisan differences — a lot of the same kinds of implications,” Molinaro said. “I don’t think there is anything novel about the situation we find ourselves in with [climate] legislation.

Here’s a little history on the bipartisan CAA amendments for all you enviro-Jane’s out there, courtesy of EPA:

In June 1989 President Bush proposed sweeping revisions to the Clean Air Act. Building on Congressional proposals advanced during the 1980s, the President proposed legislation designed to curb three major threats to the nation’s environment and to the health of millions of Americans: acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions….

By large votes, both the House of Representatives (401-21) and the Senate (89-11) passed Clean Air bills that contained the major components of the President’s proposals. Both bills also added provisions requiring the phaseout of ozone-depleting chemicals, roughly according to the schedule outlined in international negotiations (Revised Montreal Protocol)…..

Yes, life was different in Washington, DC two decades ago, a lot more moderates in those days…..

A joint conference committee met from July to October 1990 to iron out differences in the bills and both Houses overwhelmingly voted out the package recommended by the Conferees. The President received the Bill from Congress on November 14, 1990 and signed it on November 15,1990.

Conferences between the two Houses aren’t known for their speed.  And again that was two decades ago, when we had a moderate pro-environmental Republican president.

Based on my conservations with Hill experts, I tend to think the bill will hit the Senate floor in late February and the debate will last for a few weeks until it passes in late March or early April.  Then conference could take quite a while.  Still, I think the pressure will be to wrap this up before the late summer recess, and not take this right before the fall election.  I think Obama will sign the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill in early August, but I will say that at least one person with much more Hill experience than I have says it’ll be October.

But what do you think?

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