Inside This Week’s Cover Story: Obamacare

Olga Belologova
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Olga Belologova
Nov. 21, 2013, 2:17 a.m.

Sen. Mark Be­gich ad­ded a light touch about en­ergy le­gis­la­tion at just the right time.

“There has been some pro­gress made,” Na­tion­al Journ­al En­ergy and En­vir­on­ment writer Amy Harder said op­tim­ist­ic­ally at Wed­nes­day’s Na­tion­al Journ­al policy sum­mit at the New­seum.

“What would that be?” joked the Alaska Demo­crat.

All kid­ding aside, there is a lot of doubt that en­ergy le­gis­la­tion will make it out alive be­fore this Con­gress ends. Des­pite skep­ti­cism from their col­leagues and much of the world, Be­gich and Sen. Sam Brown­back, R-Kan, were still op­tim­ist­ic when they spoke at the event.

“Let’s put something on the table,” Be­gich said. “Oth­er­wise, we’ll be sit­ting here in a couple years talk­ing about why we don’t have an en­ergy policy.”

Both sen­at­ors said that get­ting some mo­mentum on en­ergy le­gis­la­tion can go a long way, even if it means tak­ing small steps.

“It’s a lot easi­er to get 60 per­cent of 100 than 100 per­cent of 60,” Brown­back said, not­ing that passing an Re­new­able Elec­tri­city Stand­ard in the lame-duck ses­sion is “still doable.”

“Why do we have to go to the par­tis­an corners on this?” Brown­back said. “I think it’s pos­sible to do.”

In a bi­par­tis­an ef­fort, Brown­back and Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Chair­man Jeff Binga­man in­tro­duced a bill last week that would re­quire util­it­ies to pro­duce 15 per­cent of the na­tion’s en­ergy from re­new­able sources such as wind, sol­ar and bio­mass by 2021.

On Tues­day, however, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., said that he could not sup­port their RES bill and in­stead in­tro­duced a clean-en­ergy stand­ard bill. His ex­pan­ded meas­ure would in­clude nuc­le­ar and “clean coal” tech­no­logy as part of the mix.

While both Be­gich and Brown­back said Gra­ham’s bill needed to be broadened, Binga­man is op­posed to mak­ing changes in it. “You don’t want to be too dog­mat­ic about any­thing in Con­gress if you want to get something passed” said Bob Si­mon, Binga­man’s com­mit­tee staff dir­ect­or, who also spoke at Wed­nes­day’s event.

Oth­er ex­perts soun­ded off on en­ergy le­gis­la­tion and its ur­gency as well, agree­ing that Con­gress should take ad­vant­age of this op­por­tun­ity while it is still on the table.

“We need to stop jump­ing from sil­ver bul­let to sil­ver bul­let and set some real goals” said Dav­id Fried­man, re­search dir­ect­or for the Uni­on of Con­cerned Sci­ent­ists. “What we need to do is get go­ing.”

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