Senate Energy Package: Wait, It Gets Worse!


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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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.