Where obstruction is most efficient...
On the same day that a host of state regulators asked the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate energy efficiency as a primary means of reducing carbon emissions, a small group of senators blocked a bill to do just that.
The EPA is scheduled to release its carbon-reduction plan next month. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the National Association of State Energy Officials and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies all asked the EPA to make energy efficiency a major component of the strategy, and to recognizing state-level efficiency gains.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, 36 senators voted to filibuster the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014, which promotes energy efficiency. It was sponsored by Sen. Jean Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio.
Just as the bill had bipartisan sponsorship, it had the support of a broad coalition of business and environmental interests.
The bill was killed for the cause of inefficiency. Dissenting senators wanted to add a provision allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry highly polluting Canadian tar sands oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, and to ease regulations for construction of new coal-fired power plants.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who heads the Energy Committee an is an avid supporter of Keystone XL, blasted her fellow pipeline supporters for blocking the bill because it also blocked a separate vote on the pipeline.
"They chose to have an issue, as opposed to having a pipeline, and that's very disappointing," she said.
Opponents failed to recognize that energy efficiency itself also is an industry. Bill sponsors said the bill would create 200,000 new jobs by promoting efficiency upgrades in public buildings and mandating them in new buildings.
But that is the current Senate, where obstruction is most efficient.