On July 22nd, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he was unable to obtain the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to defeat a filibuster of the energy and climate bill and thus he wouldn’t move this critically important policy forward this year. Instead, Reid is proposing a weaker and watered down energy bill containing only those policies which face no opposition.
The new smaller bill includes funds for the oil spill, natural gas vehicles, a land and conservation program and Home Star, a program which focuses on energy-efficient homes. However, it does not include a cap on greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants, nor does in contain energy efficiency or renewable electricity standards, which are key components of any comprehensive energy and climate policy.
The Senate’s failure to act on meaningful energy and climate legislation this year means two things. First, California’s clean energy law – AB 32 – is more important than ever, and efforts by big Texas oil companies and other polluters to undermine it with Proposition 23 must be defeated. Second, at a federal level, maintaining the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is essential. The President Obama has stated that he will veto any bill that undermines the EPA’s power.