Simply put - - very little.

On June 26, the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed the House 219 to 212 in a partisan vote that saw 44 Democratic representatives vote against the bill.  8 Republican representatives crossed party lines and voted for it.  By the time Waxman-Markey bill got out of committee, it was a very different animal – loaded down with compromises, exceptions, and special favors.  It was so compromised that Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth urged progressive representatives to vote against it.

In fact, Dennis Kucinich and Pete DeFazio voted against the bill because it had become so bloated.  DeFazio stated:

"There’s an unholy alliance of big business, some environmental groups and Wall Street" backing cap-and-trade, said DeFazio, comparing the scheme to the deregulation of the electricity markets that ultimately led to soaring rates in some states. "Wall Street is excited about another thinly regulated market."

Here is a map of House members who voted contrary to their parties' position:

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And a list in a more usable form:

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Here is a map of senators who come from states that voted for the other party's candidate in presidential elections:

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Eight Democratic senators are almost certain to oppose ACES:

West Virginia – Robert Byrd
West Virginia – Jay Rockefeller
Alaska – Mark Begich
Louisiana – Mary Landrieu
Montana – Max Baucus
Montana – Jon Tester
North Dakota – Kent Conrad
North Dakota – Byron Dorgan

These senators all come from states that produce coal, oil, and/or natural gas.  None of these states has voted Democratic in the past three presidential elections.  Both of West Virginia’s Democratic representatives voted against ACES as well as Louisiana’s lone Democratic representative.  Correct – Louisiana only has one Democratic Congressman, despite the national Democratic sweep.  Begich only barely defeated a severely-tarnished Ted Stevens.  Baucus, Tester, Conrad, and Dorgan also represent agricultural interests that are skeptical of ACES, as well.

There are five more Democratic senators who come from states that are Republican trending:

Nebraska – Ben Nelson
South Dakota – Tim Johnson
Arkansas – Blanche Lincoln
Arkansas – Mark Pryor
Missouri – Claire McCaskill

Although these are not major energy-producing states, their Democratic senators are very Blue Dog.  McCaskill has been one of Obama’s strongest supporters, but she has consistently tried to distance herself from the Democratic left.  Again, not one of these senators’ home states voted Democratic in presidential elections since 2000.  Nebraska and South Dakota are bedrock GOP at the presidential level.  Arkansas and Missouri have trended increasingly red since the Clinton years.

Then there are another eight Democratic senators – most recently elected - from states that have voted Republican in presidential elections with the exception of 2008.

Virginia – Mark Warner
Virginia – Jim Webb
Colorado – Mark Udall
Colorado – Michael Bennet
North Carolina – Kay Hagan
Ohio – Sherrod Brown
Indiana – Evan Bayh
Florida – Bill Nelson

Only Mark Udall is philosophically inclined towards supporting ACES.  Warner and Webb have worked to reduce coal-fired plant emissions, but support coal generation.  Bennet is an unknown, but faces Colorado voters in 2010 without presidential coattails.  Hagan has shown ample Blue Dog feathers, already.  Brown is sensitive both to Ohio coal production as well as energy-intensive industries in his home state.  Bayh is openly hostile to many of the provisions of the House version of ACES.

And there are two more Democratic senators to consider:

Pennsylvania – Bob Casey
Pennsylvania – Arlen Specter

Although Pennsylvania has voted reliably Democratic in the past 5 presidential elections and although Pennsylvania had more House seats switch from Republican to Democratic than any other state in the past four years, Pennsylvania also had more Democratic House members vote against the ACES bill than any other state.  Pennsylvania remains a significant coal producer.  Pennsylvania still has energy-intensive industries that are likely to be negatively impacted by ACES.  And Pennsylvania has significant refinery capacity that will be impacted by ACES legislation.

What about Republicans?
Only four possible Republican crossover votes are out there.  

Maine – Olympia Snowe
Maine – Susan Collins
New Hampshire – Judd Gregg
Iowa – Charles Grassley

But Republicans are ideologically opposed to the American Clean Energy and Security Act, so such crossovers are unlikely.  Only Gregg faces a reelection this fall in a state that is trending blue.  Grassley faces reelection, too – but since corn ethanol is targeted in the ACES legislation, he may gain support by opposing it.  Snowe and Collins are free to make their own decisions – which they usually do anyway.


Where will the Democrats get 60 votes for cloture?

Even if one assumes that Al Franken is seated prior to the energy debate in the Senate, finding 60 votes will be well nigh impossible for Harry Reid.  And Reid is looking forward to the energy bill as much as someone looks forward to a root canal.  Nuclear power remained outside of the House version of the legislation, but any Senate bill that might get 60 votes for cloture will involve some ugly compromises.  Support of expanded nuclear power is likely to be on the table.  More nuclear means more pressure for Yucca Mountain.  And that is the last thing Reid wants to bring up.

Could Reid even get the 50 votes necessary for the passage – with Joe Biden’s tiebreaker - of an ACES bill in the Senate?  That is doubtful in its current configuration.  In order to gain the support of energy state senators, the Senate energy bill would have to include so many structural compromises that it would be almost unrecognizable.  The trickle of environmental groups that opposed the House version would become a flood.  Thus, to accommodate energy state senators, Reid would likely lose support from more progressive East Coast and West Coast senators.

I suspect that Harry Reid will allow the energy bill to die in committee rather than risk embarrassment on the floor.  Such is the fate of all such legislation.  There will be a "heroic" fight with many sound bites for the media.  But in the long run, there will be no American Clean Energy and Security Act on President Obama’s desk.

Originally posted to johnnygunn on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 09:04 AM PDT.

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