Little Energy Bill Likely To Include Energy Efficiency Code

Kerry and Lieberman are due to unveil their long awaited--and until Lindsay Graham's recent exit, nominally bipartisan--cap-and-trade bill this week.  But in a less heralded move, Harry Reid indicated that he could do a smaller energy bill which would likely include national energy efficiency codes.  According to EENews (subscription required):

The "smaller" proposal Reid referred to centers around legislation (S. 1462) the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved last June. The bill, which won the votes of four Republicans, would impose a national renewable electricity standard, overhaul federal financing for "clean energy" projects, establish a suite of efficiency measures, mandate new federal electricity-transmission siting power and allow wider oil and gas leasing in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

So, even if cap-and-trade fails, this year may be a big one for federalizing green  building regulations. 

In The Department Of Doublespeak Department--We Cannot Deal With The Environment Because We Have An Environmental Problem

I don't often post twice in one day, but this came across my desk and I simply had to comment. 

I have written extensively about the progress of the Climate Bill in Congress.  Today, Lindsay Graham, Republican participant in the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham effort to put forward a bipartisan Senate version of a climate bill announced that he would not participate in developing climate legislation because of the BP oil spill.  According to the New York Times:

“In addition to immigration, we now have to deal with a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which creates new policy and political challenges not envisioned in our original discussions. In light of this, I believe it would be wise to pause the process and reassess where we stand.”

What? Let me see if I understand this correctly--we have a huge environmental problem, so we cannot deal with our...huge environmental problem? Does anyone see this as a cynical pretext for actually having to particpate in putting forward a  bipartisan effort towards getting a climate bill passed? 

Getting To Yes, Maybe

According to EENews, the Obama administration is trying a last  ditch effort to get a hybrid energy/climate bill passed:

President Obama is striving for consensus on a path forward that can deliver substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions and satisfy concerns in the Senate about energy security. In an address to the nation's top CEOs at a Business Roundtable meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Obama is expected to discuss his energy plans. According to several sources, one of the proposals under discussion is to find ways to incentivize coal-burning power plants to switch to cleaner-burning natural gas.

Economywide cap and trade or carbon tax? Maybe not.  More nuclear, probably and more "clean coal" investment, almost assuredly.  So why pass this watered down, milquetoast version of a climate and energy bill?  

There are times in lawyer's lives when they must adopt a different hat--after all the risk identifying and negotiating and hand wringing is over, there must be a signature on the dotted line.  A lawyer must advise their client that the deal is as good as its going to get, that the settlement is worth the risk.  Because no one can predict the future, there is no absolute guarantee that the deal that is struck in advance of events is as good as what could happen if events are allowed to unfold and decisions are made based on actual events.  But dealmaking has value--it allows parties to have security and allows disparate parties to come to terms that are acceptable to all, if ideal for none. 

But I wonder if this is that deal.  Let's say Obama inks this settlement, shepherded on the Republican side by Senator Lindsey Graham.  The question must be--Will the environment really benefit, not Did We Get Something Passed.  Doing something is not always better than sticking to your guns and fighting on.  The best lawyers--and politicians--know when the deal is as good as it's going to get.  I don't think we're there yet.