CLIMATE BILL BURIED UNDER SNOW?…. A tri-partisan energy bill being crafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is still pending in the Senate. The odds have been against it, and this week, it looks as if success is getting further away.

Just last week, Graham explained, “[F]rom 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.”

It looks likely that lawmakers will ignore Graham’s good advice.

Record snowfall has buried Washington — and along with it, buried the chances of passing global warming legislation this year.

Cars are stranded in banks of snow along the streets of the federal capital, and in the corridors of Congress, climate legislation also has been put on ice.

Democratic senators say a bill that was once a top priority for the party and for President Barack Obama cannot be dug up again during 2010.

It seems mind-numbing, but Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said snowfall in D.C. has had an effect on policymakers’ attitudes. “It makes it more challenging for folks not taking time to review the scientific arguments,” said Bingaman, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“People see the world around them and they extrapolate,” he added. “I think that it’s hard to see an economy-wide cap-and-trade [proposal] of the type that passed the House could prevail.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters last week that he’d like to see the final language on Kerry/Graham/Lieberman fairly soon, with hopes for a floor debate in the Spring. “Lawmakers,” The Hill reported, “are growing increasingly skeptical of that plan.”

And given that Republicans — who tend to believe all of the scientific data is part of an elaborate conspiracy/plot, and deserves to be rejected — are likely to make meaningful gains in the midterm elections, it may be many years before Congress even tries to limit emissions and combat global warming.

As the threat of the crisis grows more intense, Congress cannot act. The environmental consequences are likely to be severe and unforgiving.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.