Just days after a Rolling Stone article outlined President Obama’s commitment to taking a piece-by-piece approach to crafting an energy policy, senators of both major political parties are hinting that they are on board. This is another sign that 2011 may be the year for passing climate legislation.

In an article posted on Politico, a wide range of senators, including Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) on the Republican side seem to be following the same talking points as Democratic counterparts John Kerry (D-Mass.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). All of the senators expressed some realism and practicality.

Brown called the concept a “smart idea,” while his fellow senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, said votes for doing a one-stop shopping package are “simply not there.”

The question will be what pieces will be passed and in what order will they be introduced? Already, a Renewable Energy Standard seems to be the starting point. One week ago, several Republican senators jumped on board with a compromise idea for mandating that a percentage of America’s energy portfolio be produced from renewable sources. The plan calls for the percentages to increase between now and 2040. 

As for the next step, that's where the speculation begins. For the record, there is already a bipartisan bill that has been drafted that outlines a plan for limiting greenhouse gasses. It’s called the CLEAR Act and it outlines a simple system for limiting greenhouse gasses. The bill has something none of the failed plans had — signatures from senators on both sides of the aisle. Both of the bill’s sponsors, Susan Collins of Maine and Maria Cantwell of Washington state, are not up for reelection this November, so there’s no fear that the bill could cost either sponsor her job in 2010.

In a post midterm world, the Renewable Energy Standard and some sort of middle-of-the-road carbon bill like the CLEAR Act, are likely to be the first pieces of the energy puzzle. Of course, the important phrase to remember is “post midterm world.” Until then, look for the sound bite machines on both sides of the aisle to duke it out. Perhaps after that it will be time to tackle energy policy. One step at a time.

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