Vitter Plan As Likely to Pass as an April Fool’s Joke

The “official” Republican response to the President’s energy plan is out, and it reads like an April Fool’s joke.

It’s drill, baby, drill, and don’t let anyone try to stop you. Give all challengers to drilling permits just one 60-day window to protest. Limit all court reviews on permits to six months, and send appeals directly to the Supreme Court, which routinely rejects them.

All this just one year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. From a Senator, David Vitter of Louisiana, whose state was more damaged by that disaster than any other.

Vitter needed to claim big numbers on employment to even stop the laughter at this plan, so he made a 30-year claim of 2 million jobs. Divide 2 million by 30 and you get 66,000 new jobs/year.

Really? Really.

There are indications that some Republicans are getting the message that more Deepwater Horizons aren’t the way voters want to go.

  • Idaho will continue state aid to alternative energy projects through 2014.

  • Moves to roll-back Missouri’s wind energy incentives by a Republican legislature have slowed.

  • Virginia is converting three coal-fired power plants to biomass.

The only way power companies have a chance to beat back renewable energy seems to be by hijacking it. An example is Florida, where the state’s largest utility may succeed in gaining a veto power over projects linked to its grid. The fact that Florida voters are souring on their new Governor, who is pushing the plan, is not a coincidence.

The news isn’t all good. Two Wisconsin wind plans have been canceled under a drumbeat of Republican opposition. But you may have noticed that Republicans aren’t wildly popular in Wisconsin these days.

Even if both parties don’t support renewable energy at the top, in other words, voters do. The “party of business” now faces business lobbyists when it tries to take back aid to renewable energy, lobbyists with checkbooks.

With strong gains by Republicans across the board in last year’s elections, this was supposed to be the year that renewables, especially those dependent on government aid, would be stabbed in the heart. It hasn’t worked out that way.

And if they can’t kill us this year, the legislative outlook for the industry is only going to get sunnier. The alliance of environmentalists, business interests and reality is winning.

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Dana Blankenhorn has covered business and technology since 1978. He covered the Houston oil boom of the 1970s, began making his living online in 1985, and launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of e-commerce, in 1994. He has written for a host of off-line and online publications including The Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and ZDNet. He has covered PCs, networks, telecommunications, cable technology, Internet commerce, the Internet of Things, Open Source and Health IT, He began covering alternative energy at his personal blog, Danablankenhorn.com, in 2007.

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