U.S. Senate squares off on ambitious energy bill

All eyes are on the Senate this week as it debates a controversial Democrat-penned energy bill. (Hey! We said “all eyes”! Don’t go away.) The legislation contains several provisions that make Big Oil, Big Auto, and Big Republicans squirm: it would shift nearly $15 billion in tax credits and subsidies from oil to renewable sources like wind and solar; require utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from renewables; give the feds more power to prosecute gasoline price-gouging; and mandate a fuel-efficiency standard for cars, SUVs, and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Ambitious! But potentially doomed, as opponents are doing their best to puncture the plans, and majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may scuttle the whole thing temporarily to take up the immigration debate instead. Meanwhile, as the House floats its own energy solutions, powerful Michigan Democrat John Dingell has backed off of plans to support coal-to-liquid fuels and weaker efficiency standards — at least for now.