It has been a long time since the Congress passed an energy bill. After two years of work a bi-partisan energy efficiency bill cleared a Senate committee and was poised to go to the floor to be passed and sent to the House. Unfortunately, Republicans have stalled the bill by a plethora of amendments all designed to make the bill so bad not even a Republican could vote for it.
The underlying bill, SB1392, was sponsored by Sens. Jeanne, Shaheen Democrat of New Hampshire and Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio. It contains measures to boost building codes to enhance their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. It sets up programs and funding to train workers in energy efficient building technologies. It has measures to help manufacturers become more efficient. It also bolsters conservation efforts at federal agencies.
The White House has supported the bill saying “energy efficiency is a large, low-cost, and underutilized U.S. energy resource. Increased energy efficiency offers savings on energy bills, opportunities for more jobs, and improved industrial competitiveness, and it will lower air pollution.”
The League of Conservation Voters has also thrown its weight behind the bill saying that it is “a common sense, bipartisan bill that would increase energy efficiency, save consumers money, and help grow our economy.”
The right-wing Heritage Foundation’s political front is urging lawmakers to reject the legislation saying “Like most government-initiated efficiency programs, this one is fatally flawed because it is based on the idea that businesses and families will act irrationally unless the government intervenes.”
When Heritage speaks, Republicans listen. They are trying to add poison amendments to delay or kill the bill.
Amendment would stop EPA from regulating pollution
Sen. John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming and member of GOP Senate leadership has filed an amendment that would kill the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned carbon emissions rules for power plants. He wants them to continue being the single biggest source of carbon pollution.
Another Barrasso amendment would prevent federal agencies from using the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), a metric that helps tally the estimated benefits of avoided emissions, in regulations. He wants to insure that Americans continue to subsidize fossil fuels that are largely responsible for extreme weather and make renewable energy artificially more expensive.
Republican amendments have nothing to do with energy
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Republican of Kentucky is floating an amendment that would delay implementation of the president’s healthcare law. That is really germane to energy efficiency. Since he never read the Obamacare bill, he does not know what it does or doesn't do as evidenced by every statement to come out of his mouth.
Senator David Vitter, Republican of the refinery state, Louisiana is demanding a vote on his plan that would require the president, the vice president and political appointees, along with members of Congress and their staff, to use the Obamacare health exchanges, among other provisions. He does not realize this has nothing to do with energy efficiency either. Vitter is blocking lawmakers from securing votes on amendments unless he gets a vote on his scheme.
Finally, Republicans will not allow any bill come before Congress unless it requires Congress to mandate construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Sen. John Hoeven, Republican of tar sand oil land North Dakota said he wants a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline and will add that amendment.
Republicans have put this energy efficiency bill in doubt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada slammed Vitter Wednesday night for bringing the energy bill to a halt, calling his plan a “gotcha” amendment. He said Vitter’s effort could scuttle the whole energy efficiency bill. That is the idea.
As long as voters send Republicans to Congress, nothing will be done about climate change or energy independence. The cheapest, fastest, and environmentally soundest way to achieve energy independence is through energy efficiency. The cleanest energy is energy not required. That, however, cuts into the obscene and immoral profits oil companies make. No Republican worth his salt would do that. Portman will get the memo.