The odds of a climate bill passing this year look increasingly bleak. Harry Reid and John Kerry confirmed this afternoon that they are only going to release a very modest energy bill before the August recess. How modest? Here's Reid's (vague) description:
One, we will hold BP accountable. We will ensure it pays to clean up its mess, and we will put forth measures to prevent a disaster like this from ever happening again. Two, we will create clean-energy jobs across America. Home Star is a bipartisan energy efficiency program that will not only lower consumers’ energy costs, but create American jobs that can never be outsourced. Three, we will lessen our dependence on oil.
And fourth, our country is blessed with abundant resources and we must tap into those. That is why we will invest in the manufacturing of natural gas vehicles. We will protect our environment by investing in the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Doing so now will help ensure our land and water is protected long into the future – even from the effects of climate change.
Got that? No cap on carbon emissions. No renewable energy standard for electric utilities. Only a few small energy-efficiency measures. (And Reid's office declined to say what provisions the bill will contain to "lessen our dependence on oil.") Everything else will have to wait until the fall—which means the odds of passage are low. Reid pointed out that he couldn't get a single Republican interested in a big, comprehensive energy bill. It's not even clear how many Democrats would have supported the bill—when asked, Reid pointedly declined to give a whip count.