Following a Convention-filled recess, Congress returns to session today. The federal legislature has three weeks before it adjourns again for its members to hit the campaign trail ahead of the November elections, and energy is going to be a hotly debated topic throughout September. The issue of opening up offshore drilling left Republicans Twittering up a storm at the end of the last session and has yet to be resolved. While many think compromise is unlikely, offshore drilling could be the necessary bit of quid pro quo the Democrats need to get the renewable energy tax credits extended beyond the end of year.
Even President Bush is urging Congress to extend the investment and production tax credits, critical to the solar and wind energy industries, but yesterday in his weekly radio address added that they should “cover all forms of low-emission power generation — including nuclear power.” Bush also reiterated his call for Congress to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling and warned lawmakers: “If members of Congress do not support the American people at the gas pump, then they should not expect the American people to support them at the ballot box.”
A bipartisan group of Senators is working on an energy compromise, exchanging limited offshore drilling for renewal of the tax credits and a $20 billion investment in alternative fuel vehicles. But should that fail, the GOP is prepared to play a game of chicken if they don’t get a vote on offshore drilling; Republicans are threatening to block a bill that would keep the federal government running between Oct. 1 and Nov. 4. The question now becomes, will the Democrats be able to use offshore drilling to get those renewable energy tax credits, or will they be forced to accept offshore drilling simply to keep the lights on in government buildings?