Senate Energy Reform Gets Even Smaller

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(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The slimmed-down energy bill we've been forecasting for the Senate floor next week will be even slimmer than expected.

The Hill newspaper is quoting Senate Democratic aides who say that the energy bill will leave off any attempt set a price for carbon. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will go with an even narrower package, regulating BP and other oil drillers as well as promoting green energy production and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Supporters of a cap-and-trade approach to regulating greenhouse gases had floated the idea of applying the scheme to utilities alone in recent weeks. That approach might have been politically more palatable to a Senate that is wary of slowing down the economy with new energy mandates. Now it seems even the less ambitious carbon policy is off the table until next year.

The bill could still include new incentives for solar and geothermal power, according to The Hill. We've also reported that it is likely to contain billions in new incentives for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. A bipartisan bill carrying new investments in vehicle components, charging station technology and city-based demonstration projects for electric car infrastructure cleared the Senate Energy committee yesterday. It is now in a position for inclusion in the energy bill when it finally hits the Senate floor.

The bill also contains an taxpayer-funded research and development prize for the first firm to develop a battery that can power a car 500 miles on a single charge.