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Waxman says Dems ‘very close’ to a climate deal, White House to intensify push for bill next week, floor vote next Friday?

We are coming into the home stretch on the climate bill, and the key players are (finally) starting to step up their efforts. Politico reports:

The Obama administration will make an intense push to pass climate and energy legislation next week, according to key lawmakers, aides and lobbyists.

The “energy week” comes as the House faces new obstacles to passing a controversial cap-and-trade bill, causing environmentalists to grumble that the White House has not put enough political capital into passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year.

The White House plans to dispatch Cabinet officials to push the administration’s energy agenda and urge Congress to pass climate legislation currently under siege from skeptical Democrats in the House.

Well, I’m not an environmentalist but I certainly have been grumbling that the White House has failed to do adequate messaging or arm-twisting (see “Nancy Sutley: Obama to stake political prestige on passing US climate bill”). Heck, President Obama didn’t even show up for the launch of the first US climate impact study in a decade, one that his NOAA administrator “a game changer.”

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The White House would appear to be among those who think the bill is going to the House floor next week — and the latest buzz is that the vote might be on Friday, but that is contingent on negotiations with Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN).

And how are negotiations going with the aggies — and how will be bill be modified to appease them? E&E News PM (subs. req’d) reports:

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and farm state Democrats are “very close” to a deal on the comprehensive energy and global warming legislation, Waxman said today, potentially opening the way for a floor vote next week.

“I think we’re very close,” Waxman told reporters. “I’d think by Friday or Monday we’d have a clear outline of the totality of the bill reflecting the input from the other committees.”

One change that is all but certain is to give some of the allowances to the rural electric cooperatives (details on who they are and what they want can be found here).

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), a senior Energy and Commerce Committee member who helped negotiate the allowance language, told reporters today that there is some wiggle room to accommodate the rural electric cooperatives’ concerns, explaining that Democrats are “considering some changes to be made on the margin to the legislation.”

“We’re having conversations that involve a range of parties interested in certain aspects of how they’re treated under various allocation scenarios,” Boucher said. “And part of it is just striving for understanding of how the process as outlined in the bill actually works. But I think it’s reasonable to say we’re not going to have any significant reopening of the allocation program.”

The emission allowance issue is one of at least three items that Peterson has raised with Waxman as Democrats try to secure the necessary 218 votes for floor passage. Also on the table is debate over the Agriculture Department’s management of the carbon offset program and whether to hold the ethanol industry accountable for “indirect” land use, like crop conversion in other countries.

Some have criticized me for not preemptively attacking the proposed changes the aggies want, but, frankly, we just haven’t seen any details coming out to know what to attack — and what little has come out is nothing to lose sleep over. Giving some allocations to rural cooperatives is harmless.

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Letting the Agricultural Department work with the EPA on the carbon offset program is also not unreasonable (I wouldn’t put them in charge) — as long as the other provisions in the bill to maintain offsets integrity are kept. The indirect land use issue is certainly potentially more important — in theory — but frankly the enviros made a terrible deal back in the 2007 Energy Bill where they agreed to allow the corn ethanol industry a mandate for 15 billion gallons with a full exemption from lifecycle analysis in return for a mandate of 22 billion gallons of nonexistent cellulosic biofuels. If they thought they could undo that deal, they were wrong. The bottom line is that for the offsets and land use issue, the devil is very much in the details, and I will certainly weigh in when the specific details are out.