Welcome to 2007
The Blue Dogs and the Energy and Commerce Committee have finally reached agreement on an energy and climate bill, says Jay Newton-Small:
Ending a turf war, Waxman – whose committee has jurisdiction over the Environmental Protection Agency -- allowed the Agriculture Department, not the EPA, to oversee a potentially lucrative program of energy offsets for farmers (Peterson allowed that the Obama Administration could weigh in on the EPA's role in the issue, if any). And Waxman agreed to bar the EPA for five years from calculating how much greenhouse gas emissions are generated when forests are converted to crop fields for ethanol and biofuels. The move helps get ethanol and biofuels counted as renewable energies, thus benefiting from a big renewable investment in another part of the bill that aims to see 20% of U.S. energy derived from green sources by 2025.
When asked Peterson said he believed the bill would enjoy “broad support” and even “draw a few Republicans.” Peterson's changes will be added as an amendment when the 900+ page bill reaches the House floor Friday.
I know that Waxman has throughout this process focused on the cap, and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and he's been willing to bargain around the edges to bring that cap into reality. But these are really abominable changes. For example, by enabling farm-state Dems through holding off the calculation of biofuel land use in emissions, Waxman keeps in place the failed structure of corn-based ethanol, which takes up more energy to produce than it saves. And keep in mind that the bill out of the House is likely to be BETTER than the craptastic bill that will emerge from the Senate.
This sounds like something the Democrats would do two years ago, when they held the House and would go through compromise after compromise to get something through on an agenda item, only to see the Senate do nothing with it. What's the point?
The EPA had a good analysis of the consumer implications of the bill (it would probably lower electricity costs for most people), and the energy efficiency standards are still pretty good. But at some point, "revolutionary in its intent" just doesn't cut it. And even Podesta, in the previous link, admits the Senate bill is unacceptable. Some advocacy groups like the League of Conservation Voters are going to the mattresses, saying that "In light of the tremendous importance of this legislation, LCV has made the unprecedented decision that we will not endorse any member of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election cycle who votes against final passage of this historic bill. "
Is the bill historic? I guess, but it won't come close to doing what is needed, and furthermore the pressure needs to be exerted in the Senate. Combine the sketchy work from the enviro groups, the endless willingness to compromise from liberals, the plain old avarice from Blue Dogs and farm-state Democrats, and the sloth of the Senate, and you have a bill that won't do what's necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. We'll be switching to an adaptation strategy - climate-controlled plastic bubbles for everyone - within half a decade.