Democrats To Leave Town Having Ditched Even Their Scaled-Back Energy Bill

Senate Democrats plan to head home for their annual August recess without acting on the scaled-down energy and oil-spill related legislation they unveiled just a week or so ago after having abandoned a more-ambitious comprehensive climate and energy bill.

That leaves undone one more piece of the Democratic agenda, despite weeks of angry rhetoric heaped on BP for the Gulf Coast oil spill and vows from Democrats that they would hold the energy giant accountable.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Republicans for having to leave untouched the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Accountability Act before senators return to work in September.

“It’s a sad day when not even a single Republican will support a bill that would create up to 700,000 clean energy jobs, and hold BP accountable for the cost of its disaster,” Reid says. “As you know, we had planned a vote tomorrow on our energy plan. But it’s clear that Republicans remain determined to stand in the way of everything.

“Since Republicans refuse to move forward with any meaningful debate, we will postpone tomorrow’s votes on energy until after the recess,” Reid adds. “In the interim, we will continue to work to get Republican votes for a strong bill that holds BP accountable, creates jobs, lowers costs and protects the environment.”

The main goal of the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Accountability Act was to hold BP responsible for the oil spill which has fouled much of the Gulf of Mexico while moving the nation away from oil consumption generally.

The legislation was an alternative to an expected bigger bill that, for the first time nationally, would begin to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global climate change. President Obama had called for such climate change legislation in the Oval Office address he used to discuss his administration’s response to the BP spill, the worst such disaster in U.S. history.

Senate Republicans proposed their own energy legislation, but Reid says the GOP alternative would be a non-starter. Waiting until September, Reid adds, gives some Republicans time to change their mind and support the Democratic bill.

“The Republicans have proposed an alternative. But Democrats can’t and shouldn’t vote for the Republican bill that doesn’t even hold BP accountable for the enormous economic damages it’s caused to Gulf Coast communities. Their bill doesn’t create a single job, and it doesn’t do anything to end our addiction to oil,” Reid says. “Several key Republicans have said they need more time to consider our bill and its merits. We’re giving them that chance. I hope it will lead to a reasonable discussion and their support.”

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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