The House energy bill – two steps forward, two steps backward

Posted on July 31, 2007

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I’m trying to determine whether the state of the House energy bill means that Speaker Pelosi won some hard compromises, or whether she was handed her head, politically speaking. It may be some of both, although I’m presently leaning toward the latter.

The House of Representatives will vote this week on a new energy bill for the country. It contains provisions that boost wind power, further subsidize renewable biofuels, and increase appliance efficiency. It also raises taxes on oil companies by $16 billion over the next 10 years and uses that money to promote alternative fuels and energy conservation. The bill also leaves in place the authority of the federal government to overrule states’ objections to construction of pipelines and power line corridors. With the exception of the biofuels initiatives, these are all good things.

What the bill doesn’t do, however, is mandate the use of renewable fuels, nor does it increase the fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. It also doesn’t include any funds for nuclear power. And these are all required to make a serious dent in the United States’ carbon emissions and improve our national authority.

In other words, the serious carbon dioxide and pollution-emitting technologies were given a pass. And all in the name of a bipartisanship that includes liberal Democrats and… Blue Dog Democrats. In so doing, Speaker Pelosi was forced to give up far too much and allowed the conservative Blue Dogs to hand her her political head. She might have had better luck in getting a real and effective energy policy passed if she had actually reached across the aisle and enticed Republicans into the fold with nuclear power instead of simply tuning them out of the bill entirely.

There’s always the joint conference committee.

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