Don’t look at the partisan bickering over an energy bill as, well, partisan bickering; look at it as a buffet. Any progress on an energy bill is likely to come in a piece-by-piece basis over the next few weeks. Like any buffet, it all comes down to the options.

One of the most disputed options is any type of limit on carbon emissions, especially one that includes a price on carbon. Sen. John Kerry continues to shop around his idea on how to do that, but there simply isn’t a lot of interest in his dish. Some senators say it goes too far; others say it doesn’t go far enough for their taste.

There does seem to be a taste for the option New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman is cooking up. Along with his colleagues in the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, Bingaman is said to be working on a bill that would call for increased renewable standards while also providing incentives to do so. At face value, few in the Senate have issues with this idea.

Offshore drilling is also going to have to be dealt with as well. This dish is kind of like the side dishes being offered. Politically, nobody is particularly excited about it, but no member of Congress can return home before the election without a new policy on drilling.

We are down to the buffet option. It’s safe to say, after failures to build a consensus, one big climate bill that includes a carbon policy, a renewable energy policy and a new regulatory program for offshore drilling is simply out of the question. But each of these options is still alive individually, so it’s really going to be a matter of taste.

Climate bill à la carte
Disagreement on Capitol Hill has created a menu of options for an energy bill.