Energy bill a prime example of legislative process run amok

The Boston Globe is running a three-part series on how the Republicans now in control of Congress are reshaping the legislative process. It ain’t pretty. Part two follows the path of the massive (and currently stalled) energy bill, which began with closed-door meetings of the Cheney energy task force, thought to be influenced largely by energy-industry folks, without significant input from environmental or consumer advocates, and then wound its way to congressional conference committee meetings, from which Democrats were almost completely excluded. In the process, parties with vested interests in energy policy spent a jaw-dropping $387.8 million lobbying Congress, and tens of millions more contributing directly to politicians involved in the process. For their efforts, they got a phone-book-sized bill larded with billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory rollbacks, benefiting everyone from the nuclear industry to developers of mega-malls. The broad story is familiar, but the details reveal just how far off the rails the legislative process has gone. For those with a strong stomach, it is required reading.