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Pioneer Editorial: No energy bill just as shortsighted

It appears Congress will begin its summer recess at week's end without completing an energy bill. That's good news and bad news.

The Senate has stalled on the legislation, probably until next year, not even able to fund the votes for a less restrictive and narrowly focused bill.

That's good news because it will disable efforts, at least for now, to pass cap-and-trade policies which are not well thought out and would significantly raise rates for rural electricity consumers who would have to pay for the cap-and-trade fees put on utilities which get their power from coal-fired plants. To recognize climate change, we do have to move to alternative fuels such as wind and solar, but the nation is not prepared yet for the significant costs of converting today to such fuels. Industry is working at it, but the technology isn't there -- yet.

Not passing a slimmed-down energy bill is bad news. Stripped of cap and trade, the bill being worked in the Senate had important legislation to raise the liability limits involving an oil company spill and other measures based on the Gulf oil experience to prevent it from happening again.

The U.S. House passed its climate change bill last year, but last week approved a package that would match the Senate package, including raising the cap on liabilities for oil companies and other changes.

U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District, and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was instrumental in betting the House bill passed, which includes much of his committee's work.

The measure also dictated the registry of oil rigs in U.S.-controlled waters, so that the U.S. Coast Guard can perform the same full inspections of rigs as it does to U.S. rigs.

Climate change legislation which provides for great societal change must be taken in small sips over time. The slimmed-down bill would have done that, but now the effort to draft climate change legislation will most likely be left up to the next Congress after this year's election.