Bingaman: Do or Die Time on Cap-and-Trade Energy Bill

Stephen Power
The Wall Street Journal

A hot idea circulating in Washington is that congressional Democrats might try to pass climate-change legislation in the lame-duck session after the November elections. The idea has gained currency as the Senate’s calendar has grown crowded.

But a leading Senate Democrat said the approach won’t work.

If an energy bill is to reach President Barack Obama’s desk this year, the Senate will have to pass a substantial bill before the August recess, said Sen. Jeff Bingaman in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.” (I interviewed him; the full “Newsmakers” program is here.)

Bingaman, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, warned his colleagues against assuming they can pass a bill before the election with popular items – such as incentives for wind and solar power and electric cars – and then add more controversial provisions, such as a cap on carbon emissions, in a conference committee with the House after the election.

That approach, he said, has failed in the past.

“Any plan that contemplates ‘let’s just get something through the Senate and … people come back in a lame duck and all of us agree on something,’ I think that’s not likely,” the New Mexico Democrat said. “If we’re going to get legislation to the president for signature in this Congress, I think the Senate’s going to have to act before the August recess.”

Bingaman stands to play a big role in determining whatever legislation reaches Obama’s desk. With the support of Republicans and Democrats alike, his committee already has passed legislation that would mandate greater use of renewable energy by electric utilities and tighten energy-efficiency codes in buildings, among other things.

The article continues at WSJ.

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