AMERICAN POWER ACT STARTS TO LOOK EVEN BETTER…. If empiricism, evidence, and reason had a prominent role in the debate over climate/energy policy, the debate wouldn’t last particularly long. It’d be painfully obvious that the status quo is unsustainable; global warming is a genuine crisis; and proposals like the American Power Act are a modest, reasonable step in the right direction.

Alas, empiricism, evidence, and reason aren’t as relevant as I’d like, and comprehensive legislation is struggling badly.

That said, for those who take substance seriously, the latest news is encouraging.

A new EPA analysis of Senate climate change legislation estimates the plan would impose an average annual household cost of $79 to $146 [a year] over 40 years.

The finding could provide a political lift for the bill authored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), allowing them to counter GOP allegations that greenhouse gas limits would impose major costs on taxpayers.

The two senators, who circulated the analysis Tuesday, quickly sought to capitalize on the estimate and other findings as they seek a spot for the bill in the Senate energy debate expected to unfold this summer.

“This definitive analysis proves that the American Power Act (APA) will decrease energy bills for families and protect consumers while offering the most effective cost containment measures of any previous climate legislation,” they said in a prepared statement.

Some consumers would see modest cost increases — we’re talking about literally $7 a month — but the legislation includes mechanisms to help consumers offset those costs. As Dave Roberts explained, “Cost is simply not a credible reason to oppose a carbon cap.”

And at the same time the American Power Act would overhaul a broken energy framework, combat global warming, make America more competitive globally, lower the budget deficit, and according to a ClimateWorks Foundation analysis also published today, create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next generation.

Given all of this, plus public opinion, plus the effects of the worst environmental catastrophe in American history, it’s painfully frustrating to realize this might die in the Senate.

For what it’s worth, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said today, “Are we there? No. We don’t have the 60 votes yet. I know that. But we’re close, enough to be able to fight for it, and we’ll see where we wind up.”

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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.