Looming just behind the climate change negotiators laboring in Senate conference rooms is “Plan B” — an “energy only” bill that is smaller in scope and enjoys bipartisan support.
There is a committee-passed bill (S. 1462 (pdf)) waiting in the wings that has more offshore drilling for Republicans and more renewable energy requirements for Democrats.
But the bipartisan support enjoyed by the energy-only bill is countered by its bipartisan opposition, and it is hard to add up the needed 60 votes to move controversial legislation in the Senate. So, the balancing act for the scaled-down bill could be every bit as tricky as finding a “grand bargain” to pass a climate bill.
One leading industry analyst says without a strict limit on greenhouse gas emissions, the bill collapses.
“You won’t get a bill without a carbon cap. You can’t buy off enough liberals to pass it,” said Kevin Book managing director of Washington-based consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) disagrees, and he wants the Senate to jump on the bill right now. “There are not a lot of weeks left in this legislative session, and my fervent hope is, I would say to those who have been working on climate change and blocking our ability to bring an energy bill to the floor of the Senate, I hope perhaps we could find a way to work together to bring the energy bill to the floor,” Dorgan said yesterday on the floor (see related story).
And there are others beyond Dorgan and some of his fellow centrists, who say the landscape will shift in favor of an energy-only bill if Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) cannot cobble together a winning plan on climate.
The rest here.