Steering clear of a ‘half-assed energy bill’

STEERING CLEAR OF A ‘HALF-ASSED ENERGY BILL’…. Speaking to Senate Democrats this morning, President Obama singled out the tri-partisan energy bill being crafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). He praised them for “coming together to try to find a workable, bipartisan structure” for reforming the status quo.

“Don’t give up on that,” Obama urged senators. “I don’t want us to just say the easy way out is for us to just give a bunch of tax credits to clean energy companies. The market works best when it responds to price. And if they start seeing that, you know what, dirty energy is a little pricier, clean energy is a little cheaper, they will innovate, and they will think things through in all kinds of innovative ways.”

The opposition, however, remains diverse, and approving anything will be more difficult thanks to Massachusetts’ recent lapse in judgment. There’s growing talk among center-right Democrats that they kill the tri-partisan energy bill and replace it with a thinner, less meaningful package that ignores caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s hard to believe, but Lindsey Graham’s take on this, criticizing the half-measure, has real merit.

“It’s the ‘kick the can down the road’ approach,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “It’s putting off to another Congress what really needs to be done comprehensively. I don’t think you’ll ever have energy independence the way I want until you start dealing with carbon pollution and pricing carbon. The two are interconnected.” […]

“If the approach is to try to pass some half-assed energy bill and say that’s moving the ball down the road, forget it with me,” Graham said, adding that the energy-only proposal does not do enough to promote nuclear power and it ignores revenue sharing for states that agree to offshore oil and gas exploration. […]

“We’ve done things on the energy side, we’ve got some buy-in from people on the left and the middle that I never dreamed of,” he said. “I just hope we don’t blow it. And from a Republican point of view, you’ve got the best chance you’ll ever have to get meaningful energy independence. From the Democratic left point of view, you’ve got the best chance you’ll ever have to have carbon pollution controls. Don’t let [the opportunity] pass.”

I don’t agree with Graham often, but that’s good advice.

For what it’s worth, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters yesterday that he’d like to see the final language on Kerry/Graham/Lieberman fairly soon, with hopes for a floor debate in the Spring.