THE RENEWABLES STANDARD’S LAST STAND
Democrats warm to last-ditch energy push
Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Voorhees, September 23, 2010 (Politico)
"For more than a year, the renewable electricity standard sat on the Senate sidelines, waiting for the major climate and energy bill that never came…Now, the bipartisan effort is drawing interest from the White House and Democrats, who see it as a last-ditch attempt to pass anything on energy before Republicans swarm Capitol Hill in the midterm elections.
"Liberal senators, including Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), have signed on as co-sponsors. And they’re getting plenty of help from environmental groups and labor and clean energy advocates, who have been waging a late-summer advocacy blitz…Even Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)…is excited…Boxer said liberal Democrats welcome the move to an RES, just like they voted for a fuel economy bill in the closing hours of the 2007 session negotiations…"
Co-sponsor Brownback demonstrates his support of New Energy. Is his bill equally symbolic? (click to enlarge)
"…[H]eaded by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)…[the RES bill requires] utilities to obtain 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021…In mid-2009, many assumed the energy committee bill would be folded in with a cap-and-trade measure like the House-passed climate plan, and environmentalists and some Democrats thought the 15 percent mark was too weak…[But now] Sean Garren, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s federal clean energy advocate, said the [current] measure is a ‘positive step forward,’ even if it’s not perfect…But Andrew Wheeler, former GOP staff director of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sees the measure as a ploy…[for] the Democratic base…
"…Underscoring the difficulty the bill’s backers face [in getting 60 votes for prompt Senate action], [the White House remains non-committal and though] sponsors thought they had scored a major victory… by luring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) to add his name as a co-sponsor, …those plans appeared to fall apart hours later…Bayh’s staff declined to comment… other than to say the rumors he was a co-sponsor were false…"
Is this a good start? (click to enlarge)
"The limited congressional schedule also means any changes could be deadly…Brownback said keeping the standard at 15 percent by 2021 is key to persuading conservatives to go along with the plan…Likewise, both Brownback and Bingaman said they decided not to add ethanol or nuclear provisions to keep things simple and maintain momentum…That said, the temptation for the bill to turn into a “Christmas tree” measure [with many amendments and add-ons] may be too much for lawmakers to avoid…
"Wheeler doesn’t think an RES will gain momentum because it’s such a big piece of other energy efforts…Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also isn’t a fan…"