The Vine

Last-minute Climate Bill Add-ons

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Jim Tankersley of the Los Angeles Times has a good story today about the flurry of last-minute additions to the House climate bill. For instance, less than 24 hours before the vote, Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter snuck in some incentives for home energy efficiency, as well as language preventing homeowner associations from banning solar panels. There's absolutely no reason to add these provisions by stealth, though they sound like defensible policy. But what about this?


Surprisingly for a climate bill, there was also a provision making it harder to develop the vast wind-power potential of states like North Dakota -- a key element in President Obama's strategy to fight global warming. ...

In the case of wind power, the key to realizing its potential is the construction of transmission grids to carry electricity from the windy Great Plains states to urban centers.

The climate bill gave the federal government the power to overcome local delays and speed up construction of the power lines. But East Coast representatives, worried that jobs would migrate to Chicago and other cities closer to the sources of wind power, changed the bill to take away that expediting power anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.

Amazing. All told, at least 300 midnight-hour amendments crept into the final bill, most of them designed to woo fence-sitters, some of the provisions sensible (sure, let's make mobile homes more efficient), some of them not (like those extra incentives to promote natural-gas-powered cars, which don't make a ton of sense from a clean-energy standpoint). In theory, the Senate has a chance to strip out some of the more ludicrous measures, but, of course, senators are just as likely to slip in their own last-minute items.

--Bradford Plumer

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