Energy, the Shifting Political Sands

By August 14, 2008Energy

Tar sands, perhaps. That would be good.

Politico’s The Crypt blog has a report on the Democratic conference call yesterday, where energy was a major item of discussion.

Democratic leaders in the House discussed the possibility on Wednesday of offering a comprehensive energy package when Congress returns in the fall, according to leadership aides.

Details remain hazy from the Wednesday afternoon conference call, and one aide cautioned that “no final decision [was] made.”

But it seems clear party leaders are crafting a comprehensive energy package that would combine a Republican priority to open new offshore sites for oil and gas exploration with Democratic priorities, like tax subsidies for renewable sources of energy or new requirements for energy producers to generate more power from renewables, like wind and solar power.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell commented in anticipation of the call:

What we really need to have is a real debate like we used to have in the Senate where lots of different amendments were offered and you had a chance to offer whatever you thought would make a difference,” McConnell said.

Skepticism seems warranted, just as a matter of political reality. The absolutists among the environmental constituencies will not accept any additional OCS drilling under any circumstance, and so a “compromise” that met their standards would have to be political cover and nothing more. Even if some pro-consumer, pro-energy, pro-market bill passes like the progressively bipartisan Peterson-Abercrombie legislation, H.R. 6709, you don’t think the environmentalist left will immediately turn to the courts to block drilling? It’s what they do.


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