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While environmentalists everywhere anxiously await the next step in the slovenly saga of the Waxman-Markey climate bill, an entirely different energy bill has just slipped through the gates. And I'm going to venture a guess that they're not going to be quite as interested in seeing this one pass into law. This measure, which just made it through the Senate Committee, would open large areas of the Gulf of Mexico for gas and oil drilling, funds clean coal, and approves a new gas pipeline through Alaska.
But there are a few nods to greener policy, too. Well, a few. According to the New York Times,
The measure, which cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a 15-to-8 vote, would also require utilities to produce up to 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2021. That standard is somewhat weaker than one in a House energy and climate change bill that is headed for a floor vote as early as next week.
Okay, so that, along with money allotted for green jobs training, is pretty much the best of it. A weak renewable energy standard. It's also got funding for clean coal technology and an expansion of the US's oil stockpiles. And it allows for drilling at an unprecedentedly close 45 miles off the coastline. And then, there's this.
"The measure does not include any mandatory reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases."
In other words, this cannot truly be considered in any way a viable alternative to the climate bill that's currently making the rounds. Oh, and here's why:
The Senate bill is a compromise between Democratic members seeking to reduce energy use and emissions linked to global warming and Republican members intent on increasing production of oil, gas and nuclear power. Republicans and Democrats who supported the bill said they hoped to strengthen it, each side to its own advantage, when it reaches the floor.
Put simply, this is an unacceptable energy policy for the 21st century. Thankfully, it's seems to be taking a major backseat to the Waxman-Markey bill, and is at the moment unlikely to make it much further.
The bill’s fate is highly uncertain. Senate leaders have said that before deciding how to approach the subject, they will wait until the House acts on the more comprehensive energy and global warming legislation
And even though W-M's got its (many) flaws, it's still a lot better than this one.
More on the Climate and Energy Bill
Cap and Trade Won't Break the Bank: Climate Bill Would Actually Cut US Budget Defecit
GOP Attempts to "Nitpick" Climate Bill into Oblivion