It’s the lame duck session that turned out not to be so lame, unless you were hoping for some sort of energy legislation. Let’s start with the big news: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone. Like it or hate it, a major compromise was reached on tax extensions, and there’s still time left for some other stuff — but not energy, and especially not green energy.

A vague renewable energy standard is still uncertain, and I’m sure there will be some green earmarks to come out of the next giant budget. Yet, as expected, the big stuff didn’t get done on emissions reductions, green financing and the lot. Perhaps most telling about the state of climate legislation on Capitol Hill is that the biggest legislative victory came when Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) announced he would delay his anti-emissions regulation bill to 2011.

Rockefeller’s bill is sort of the second cousin to Lisa Murkowski’s bill from summer 2010 that attempted to repeal the EPA’s authority to regulate emissions at the source. The bill failed passage by a slim margin. Rockefeller’s bill would delay the EPA’s regulation, which is set to begin on Jan. 2 for up to two years.

Now Rockefeller’s delay plan looks as if it will be adapted. And according to a Politico report, it comes down to politics. “I have been reliably informed that longtime Republican proponents of my bill to suspend EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions have pulled their support for this year, so that they can gain some political advantage trying to take over this issue in 2011,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

While the Rockefeller statement is brutally revealing, it is also provides a chance for the climate-minded to gasp for air. The EPA is certainly going to be under fire when the House and Senate reconvene with a lot more Republicans in a few weeks. If the votes were taken today, Rockefeller would likely have the votes — so in the future, the suspension seems to be even more of a lock.

But for now the EPA looks poised to regulate, while those preparing for the attacks are trying to breathe rather than claim victory.

Lame duck session brings a small victory for environmentalists
For political purposes, a West Virginia senator is giving the EPA a little breathing room -- for now.