Senate Energy Package: Wait, It Gets Worse!

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Just got confirmation from several Senate offices about what is actually going to be in the package Democrats put forward next week. In a nutshell, this is going to be a very tiny package, with little in the way of energy measures. I’m not even sure you can call it an energy package at this point.

Here’s what we know is going to be in the package:

1. Oil spill response measures, including elimination of the liability cap for damages and granting the power of subpoena to the presidential oil spill commission.

2. Reforms to the Department of Interior division charged with overseeing oil and gas development, likely similar to the package Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has proposed.

3. $5 billion to spur the development of a natural gas truck fleet.

4. $5 billion to fund the HomeStar program, which will encourage construction of energy-efficient homes.

5. $5 billion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

And that’s it. Obviously, there’s no carbon cap, that much we already knew. But there’s also no other major energy efficiency standards, and, perhaps most importantly, no renewable electricity standard –not even the weak one included in the energy bill last year.

A Senate Democratic aide tells me that leadership backed off including a cap, which they thought would become the focus of Republican opposition in the absence of the much-demonized carbon cap.

Senate aides hoping to put a positive spin on the package note that it at least does not include any of the really bad measures that progressive senators were worried about, including major incentives for coal and nuclear power and the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. It is also a package that Democrats are expected to support uniformly.

But, one aid added, “I don’t think anyone around here is thrilled.”

Read More: Josh Harkinson on Obama’s role in the demise of the climate bill.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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