In the latter half of the last Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked so often about a comprehensive energy and climate bill that it became almost comical. Everywhere he went, Democratic senators, industry lobbyists, environmentalists and the huge coterie of energy reporters on Capitol Hill besieged him with the question: Do you have the 60 votes yet?
The House had passed a broad cap-and-trade climate bill in 2009. But in the Senate, the usual mix of ideological, partisan and regional politics that always complicate federal energy policy was once again conspiring to sink what many viewed as a real chance for Congress to pass comprehensive legislation.
Then came an election, divided government and a new focus on the deficit. Then a spike in gasoline prices. And now, the conversation over energy policy in Washington has given way to a new dynamic.