This afternoon at 3:30, the Senate starts a second week of debate on the energy bill. Although there are no roll calls scheduled for today’s session, Leader Reid has made it clear that he is determined to finish the legislation this week. That’s certainly doable -- as long as senators who oppose renewable electricity don’t try to unplug the whole bill.
So far, about 100 amendments to H.R. 6 have been filed. The bill managers, plus the chairs and rankings of the other committees which have contributed to the legislation, have been working to process these potential amendments. They’re trying to skinny the stack by clearing amendments, or teeing them up for votes. The big issues remaining are auto mileage standards, coal, renewable electricity and the tax package.
Week 1 review: Debate was slow at times, but yielded some satisfying successes -- mostly in what was kept off the bill rather than added to it. The Senate rejected amendments on refinery revitalization and OCS development, and those issues appear to have gone away. The Senate also tabled a “clean power” amendment designed to thwart an attempt to require greater use of renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.
Week 2 preview: As noted, major issues expected are amendments to soften the bill’s increase in corporate average fuel economy standards (Pryor-Bond-Levin) … an amendment to require utilities to supply a specific percentage of electricity from renewable energy sources (Bingaman) … an amendment to create a loan program for equipment to control greenhouse gas emissions at industrial plants which use coal as a feedstock (Tester-Byrd-Salazar) … and, of course, the ever-popular energy tax package (Baucus-Grassley).
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