Senate Energy Bill: Final Week (?)

The Senate begins its second week debating the energy bill. This bill has tremendous implications for global warming and wildlife. With a handful of votes this week, the Senate could begin to put us on the necessary path of reducing global warming pollution by 2% annually. Of course, no matter how this energy bill turns out, the Senate will soon need to address global warming with a cap and trade bill that sets mandatory limits on pollution – but this energy bill could take many steps toward a cleaner energy future.

Over the weekend over 100 amendments were filed for the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wanted to wrap up debate on the energy bill this week. Hmm… something’s gotta give, and it’s going to be the number of amendments voted on. With no voting today, we are likely to see a glut of voting tomorrow and Wednesday – but not 100 votes – before Sen. Reid invokes a closure vote to end debate on the energy bill and moves on to immigration.

Joining the 3 big amendments yet to be dealt with (CAFE-Fuel Economy; Renewable Energy Standard; and liquid coal), is Sen. Baucus’s $13.7 billion tax package to provide incentives for renewables and close tax loopholes for oil and gas leases. These 4 amendments are likely to come up this week, but could easily get waylaid if Senate leadership doesn’t have the votes. Speaking of which…

The scenario surrounding the Bingaman RES (Renewable Energy Standard) vote is a bit complicated. Republican leadership has threatened to filibuster; the Democrats could let them filibuster and have a “cloture” vote – needing 60 votes to end the filibuster – then have an up or down vote, which would need 50 to pass. Or, they could accept a deal where they have an up or down vote but needed 60 to pass. The way this plays out will depend on timing, whether they have the votes, and political grandstanding. We are working to get as much support for this amendment as possible, with the added message that this is too important to play politics with and senators should oppose the filibuster.

Finally, other issues we will be watching this week: Biden-Lugar resolution to get the US to re-engage in international climate treaties (will likely need 60 votes); an Arctic drilling amendment (unclear if it will be voted on, or just debated); a Climate registry amendment to get industry to monitor their carbon emissions (this was rejected by Sen. Domenici as “non-germaine”, or not relavant, to the bill; we are working to have it be allowed as an amendment).

Until the Votes begin tomorrow…