Senators from both sides of the climate change debate are seeking to put the issue on the agenda for the "lame duck" session of Congress following the November 2, 2010 congressional midterm elections. However, given the gridlock that has stalled previous initiatives, the odds are long that much, if anything, will be achieved before the 111th Congress ends on January 3, 2011.
On one side are senators seeking to pass incremental energy legislation on issues far less controversial than emissions caps. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is seeking votes on bills to (i) establish a national renewable electricity standard, requiring utilities to obtain 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021; (ii) set energy efficiency standards for more than a dozen consumer appliances, such as furnaces and dishwashers; and (iii) extend or expand a range of clean energy tax incentives. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also introduced legislation to establish a national renewable electricity standard, but would expand on the Bingaman bill by deeming new nuclear power, clean coal, and waste-to-energy as "renewable" along with traditional sources like wind and solar power. Finally, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans a vote on his bill to authorize more than $4 billion to support deployment of alternative fuel vehicles.
On the other side are senators seeking to delay for two years EPA's implementation of its Tailoring Rule, which will impose greenhouse gas permit obligations on certain facilities beginning in January 2011. Retiring Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) attempted unsuccessfully to attach such an amendment to a Democrat-sponsored bill designed to discourage companies from moving jobs overseas, and similar amendments may be offered in a lame duck session, particularly to bills that would provide funding for EPA. In addition, Majority Leader Reid has promised Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) a floor vote on his bill to defer Tailoring Rule authority for two years. Although Rockefeller claims that he will have the 60 votes necessary to defeat a filibuster, it's unlikely that the House would take up such a bill or that President Obama would sign it.