The 7 Biggest Obstacles to US Energy Reform
Photo via Lowly Interpreter
In case you hadn't heard, change is a-comin' in US energy policy. Or at least our elected officials say it is: Obama campaigned with promises to move the US towards energy independence once and for all. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the massive climate and energy bill will pass and bring huge reform by next year. And many think we have a unique opportunity to forge ahead and to finally start weaning our dependence on foreign oil, upping the clean energy ante, and clamping down on pollution. Here are the 7 things that stand in our way.Energy reform is easier said than done--and though Obama might seem like a revolutionary, the truth is, just about every president since Nixon has tried his hand at it. But Obama and co's plans are even more ambitious than any of his predecessors': the Democrat-led plans include a cap and trade for carbon emissions, a renewable energy standard that would increase the amount of clean energy the US must use, and major investment in energy efficiency, a smart grid, and alternative energy technology. And much of that's been packaged up into the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill, which has began its long journey through Congress. Here are the 7 biggest things that could shut it--or any attempts at energy reform for that matter--down.
Image via Stand Up for America
1. A Great Big PR Problem
Put simply, nobody cares. Or rather, nobody cares nearly enough--a recent poll found that 76% of Americans had no idea what cap and trade was. And cap and trade is a huge component of Obama's sweeping energy plans. As the New York Times points out, everybody cares about issues like health care--they concern each and every individual. Not so with energy; interest on the subject seems to be at the whims of the media and gas prices.
2. One Word: The Senate
Okay, so one word if you don't count definite articles. Even if the climate and energy bill passes through the House--where it has a solid chance of doing so--the Senate presents a thornier issue. First, the Democratic majority is slimmer, and secondly, bills require more than a simple majority vote to pass there. And when it comes down to the wire as it does with cap and trade, it spells trouble. But it could have been so different, if only . . .
3. Truth, But No Reconciliation
Obama's energy plans took a major hit when Congressional leaders opted out of using the budget reconciliation process to pass cap and trade through the Senate--which would've meant the measure could have passed with only 50 votes instead of the much harder to grab 60. The decision came after 28 senators protested the cap and trade measure.