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Sierra Club’s Pierce Weighs Chances of Energy Bill Passage Next Year

In an interview with The Washington Independent, Sierra Club Deputy National Campaign Director Melinda Pierce said prospects for passage of significant energy legislation in the lame-duck session or next year are unclear.

On the lame-duck session, Pierce said: “It can either all collapse and they’re in and out of here very quickly based on the political paralysis or there are a few things that have a glimmer, a glow of life left.”

Pierce said the renewable energy standard proposed by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) has a chance of passing, though she notes that the introduction of a competing bill that would expand the mandate to include nuclear and coal with carbon capture and storage technology could pose a problem for the fate of the Bingaman bill.

Of the competing bill, authored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Pierce said:

Once Graham raised that specter, it offered a bit of a way out for people who were sort of on the fence like a Landieu or a Nelson who we probably could have gotten on a stand-alone bill.

There are other possible energy bills that could pass, including electric and natural gas vehicles legislation and a home efficiency bill called Homestar, though Pierce notes that that bill “has a hell of a pricetag.”

She also said it is “appalling and shocking” that the Senate has not yet passed an oil spill response bill, though she noted, “A lot of the stuff that needs to be done in terms of reform can be done administratively.”

Overall, as I noted in this story, Pierce said much of what will get done in the lame-duck and next year will depend on the outcome of the mid-term elections. But if nothing can get done in the Senate, the Sierra Club will redouble its efforts to push the Obama administration to pass strong regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy.

“In the face of this legislative paralysis a regulatory agenda based on winning strong rules is probably the best in terms of getting significant reductions in GHGs or oil use,” Pierce said.

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