Here is a policy update for you. Back in early June, I was a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange for a show on the politics of the BP Gulf oil spill. On the show, I predicted that there was no chance that Congress would be able to pass comprehensive energy legislation addressing climate change, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted he would move forward on the issue before Congress recessed for the summer. I expressed that same sentiment in a post dealing with President Obama’s Oval Office address on the spill a few days later. At best, I thought Congress might pass smaller legislation focused specifically on drilling, and oil and gas production.
Well, all of that has recently come to pass. Senate Democrats have officially bailed on any comprehensive energy legislation, at least until after the midterm elections (when prospects will likely be even dimmer for passage). The House just passed a narrow bill dealing specifically with drilling safety, spill liability limits, and oil and gas production fees. In the Senate, Reid is quickly moving his own smaller package, but its future is uncertain.
It has been my experience that when the country undergoes periods of economic distress and/or extreme partisan polarization, energy legislation is usually one of the first political casualties. Many of its policy targets are far off in the future and come with large price tags. The reality is that issues of energy independence, alternative fuels, and climate change have become significant ideological lighting rods for Washington policy debates. I could already tell back in the spring that the current energy legislation episode would be no different.
Posted On: 08-02-2010 19:35:26 by Don Noordsy
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