Two months ago, Washington was filled with hope that Congress would produce an energy bill that would begin to address the two great challenges of oil dependency and climate change. Each chamber had approved respectable if incomplete measures that could be combined in one outstanding bill. Then the bills disappeared into the back rooms as Democratic leaders tried to negotiate a final product.According to the NYT, a number of important provisions in the competing House and Senate bills may be on the chopping-block, including the CAFE fuel efficiency provision, the renewable portifolio standard provision, and the production tax credit provisions. There's also talk of moving the Renewable Fuels Standard to the Senate agriculture bill.
These talks have now reached a dangerous point. With both houses feeling pressure to do something — anything — to deal with high oil prices, there’s a real danger that one or more essential provisions could be dropped just for the sake of producing a bill.
National Public Radio interviewed several key legislators on the status of the energy bill yesterday. Republican leadership in the Senate is blocking appointment of a conference committee to resolve differences in the House and Senate energy bills, but informal negotations are on-going. Speaker Pelosi hopes to have a compormise bill before Thanksgiving; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks they'll be lucky to have a bill by Chirstmas break.
WattHead and Gristmill have more on what may be going on behind closed Capitol doors.