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A modest but sensible bipartisan proposal, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, put together by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, may be in trouble. That's because other senators want to attach amendments to it regarding climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline, ethanol and possibly others.

The bill was reported out of committee on May 8, but it has yet to be scheduled for a floor debate as its co-sponsors try to determine what amendments might be added and how these might affect its prospects in the full Senate:

Shaheen said she fears seeing her bill become a catch-all for extraneous add-ons. [...]

She said she hopes any amendments allowed would relate to energy efficiency—and she doesn’t think issues like Keystone or climate change are relevant.

But Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) told POLITICO that he indeed wants to offer a Keystone amendment and has discussed it with Senate leaders, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Portman and Shaheen.

The Keystone amendment would surely be yet another attempt to short-circuit the mandated process that requires the president to decide aye-or-nay on the much-disputed project.  

Forty years ago this October, the Yom Kippur War was launched and, after the United States resupplied Israel with arms and other aid, the Arab oil embargo soon followed. That produced the 1973 Oil Crisis. At the time, it was written in ALL CAPS in the tabloids and in the minds of many Americans and political leaders fearful of the potential of long-term disruption and higher oil prices.

In addition to long queues at the gas pump, the short-lived embargo spurred some modest changes in energy policies such as the conservationist National Maximum Speed Limit (of 55 mph) in 1974 and, ultimately, under President Jimmy Carter in 1977, the closest thing the nation has ever had to a comprehensive energy plan.

Most of that plan was eviscerated by President Ronald Reagan, who parroted the right-wing nonsense that conservationists and supporters of developing renewable energy sources wanted Americans to "freeze to death in the dark." Since then, under both Democrats and Republicans, new energy legislation has been passed, some of it good stuff like the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, some of it bad. But progress has been piecemeal. And a battle every step of way, as seen by the last-minute renewal in 2012 of the production tax credit that boosts development of wind, solar and geothermal projects.

This piecemeal approach wouldn't be so bad if Congress could be counted on to take affirmative action on bills like Shaheen-Portman, the Sustainable Energy Act and carbon-pricing Climate Protection Act, both co-sponsored by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, and the Sanders-proposed 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011. But, of course, a Congress filled with climate-change deniers and delayers cannot be counted on to pass such bills, even though the energy and climate crises we now face make the 1973 oil crisis look like a picnic.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 12:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Climate Change SOS, Climate Hawks, Gulf Watchers Group, and Daily Kos.

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