“We know that this is a difficult election year, but I think the public wants us to take a strong action on energy.” So says Sen. Joe Lieberman who evidently thinks Americans would support the national energy tax legislation currently in the works.
Really? Is it any wonder the public thinks the U.S. Congress is seriously out of touch? (See recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showing public confidence in Congress is even lower than sinking confidence in President Obama.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who in the eleventh hour before the August recess is trying to push through energy reform legislation, could be even more clueless. This from the Washington Post:
Can Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pass a big energy and climate bill before the end of the year, let alone before the Senate’s August recess? Increasingly, senators and Hill staffers say no, and they’re wondering why he would try.
It is likely even Sen. Reid won’t. At least not comprehensive climate reform. At least not now. Introducing legislation on Monday only allows about 13 days for legislative action before the summer recess. And the one thing everyone agrees on is that he doesn’t have the 60 votes needed.
Some of the more realistic—and nervous—members of Reid’s party do seem to get that not only do Americans strongly reject cap and trade, they also strongly oppose the less ambitious but still costly cap on utilities’ carbon emissions. No surprise, consumers understand that means hefty energy price hikes, even though Sen. Reid is desperately selling it as advancing “cleaner power” and “regulatory certainty.” Economic certainty is what voters care about. Some Senate Democrats, including Diane Feinstein, are even urging Sen. Reid to hold off on a carbon emissions cap until the economy improves. See the AP news story here.
Yet don’t take your eye off the ball just yet. Sen. Reid’s legislation is likely to include a renewable portfolio standard, mandating utilities to provide a portion of their electric power from renewable sources like solar and wind. It could require anywhere from 15 to 25 percent renewables by 2025. What’s more, legislation would preempt the states as the Wall Street Journal today explains here.
Like carbon caps, a renewable portfolio standard is a prescription for higher energy bills—as much as 36 percent, according to the Heritage Foundation.
If the Senate wants to improve their poll numbers with the American public, they’ll refrain from introducing any energy reform measures that impose costs on consumers.