The latest version of the energy bill, which includes an extension of the $1-a-gallon biodiesel tax credit and federal incentives for wind and solar energy (which were all set to expire at the end of this year), has passed the U.S. House, but its future is most assuredly less assured as it moves on to the U.S. Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is holding votes on four separate energy bills, possibly starting as early as tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 18th), as lawmakers hit the final week before they go on their fall recess starting Sept. 26. This story from the Washington, D.C.-based newspaper The Hill says it might be too much with too little room and time for compromise to get a bill that will pass:
Few senators expressed optimism that the two parties could resolve deep disagreements in such a compressed, politically charged atmosphere, especially with 60-vote thresholds likely necessary. Reid himself suggested a lame-duck session after the Nov. 4 elections might be necessary if the issue cannot be resolved.
“It would definitely be the triumph of hope over experience,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the GOP’s chief deputy whip. “The Democrats will run their bill, the Republicans will run our bill, none of them will reach 60, and my guess is that’s where everything stops.”
Still, there is some reason for hope. Both Democrats and Republicans say the energy debate will be simplified by passing alternative energy tax incentives in a separate tax package, leaving only the sticky problem of expanding offshore oil drilling.
So it looks like the incentives for renewable energy could get extended even if the energy bill as a whole is doomed. As I said yesterday, stay tuned… this story is far from over.