It’s been a week. Another defeat for the offshore drilling moratorium, an EPA announcement on pollution, and a good old-fashioned land squabble in the West. But it is the week ahead that could prove pivotal.

If an energy bill is to be drafted, I’m told the last two weeks of July will be the window to do so. That leaves the week of July 11 as the time for everyone to get on the same page.

Politico compared an energy bill to “Weekend at Bernie’s,” with the line of the day, “the enviros are walking around like this thing is still alive, but we can all see it’s dead.” While I can’t top that astute observation, I would venture to compare next week to a bi-yearly experience from my college days: the week before final exams.

On one hand, the “study” week could be scheduled out with a steady dose of meetings, flow charts and homework, with the goal of methodically working towards achieving a positive result. One the other hand, the time could be used to reinforce bad (fun) habits resulting in a missed opportunity and causing a whole lot of explaining when you go home.

The analogy can be taken pretty far. Bad habits, like partisan bomb-throwing, are about as productive in an energy debate as beer-bongs are for preparing for a chemistry exam. And while a beer-bong, especially at the early stages of this process, may not cause too much damage, there’s always the risk it will spin out of control. The same principle extends to practice of bitter partisanship on Capitol Hill.

So here we are. Congress is about to return from a week off, (unless you have been working on the Bingaman energy bill). The deadline is looming, but there’s still time. The question is: How will it be used?