House leadership dilutes energy bill for easier passage

As the U.S. House of Representatives edges ever closer to approving an energy bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been orchestrating compromises to make it more palatable to the so-called “hydrocarbon Democrats.” Language that would have raised vehicle fuel-economy standards has been dropped. Dems are backing off from a provision that would give regulators more time to evaluate drilling permits on federal lands. Pelosi is doing away with a requirement that oil and gas companies pay royalties in cash instead of in product. Pelosi has also removed the renewable electricity standard that would have required utilities to get a greater percentage of their power from renewable sources, though lawmakers will be allowed to try to get it passed as an amendment when the bill reaches the floor. Meanwhile, experts say that a provision slipped into the Senate-passed version of the energy bill could make the nuclear-power industry eligible for an unlimited number of loan guarantees costing billions of dollars apiece. What, you thought the Democrats would be different?