Brownback says handful or more Republicans in play on RES

Brownback is focusing solely on getting fellow Republicans to sign on
to the legislation, which would require electricity companies to
 produce 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources like
 wind, solar and biomass by 2021. A quarter of that mandate could also
 come from energy efficiency efforts. It is very similar to a measure
 that passed as part of a larger energy strategy in Bingaman’s panel
 last year.

Environmentalists have rallied behind the effort despite misgivings 
that the bill is too weak, with some arguing it does not do more than 
the status quo.

Republicans, meanwhile, would like to see a broader array of energy 
sources included in the mandate, including all nuclear power, 
hydroelectricity and coal produced using carbon capture and storage 

But Bingaman “wants to keep it clean” because he “thinks he starts to then lose
 votes and it gets a lot more complicated and less likely to pass” if 
additional energy sources are included, Brownback said. 

“I tried to get him to add ethanol,” Brownback added, referring to adding a section separate from the production mandate that extends tax credits for the fuel additive that expire at the end of this year and creates other biofuels incentives. “I think that
 gets us another handful of votes” from farm-state senators, he said.

Grassley also has said while he agrees with the substance of the
 mandate, he would not vote for it on the Senate floor if Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) does not allow amendments to be

Reid has said that if energy comes up this year it would be in a 
post-election, lame-duck session that may not offer much of any time at
 all for debate on an RES or other issues.

Brownback said he is fine if amendments are not allowed if Reid 
“doesn’t get cute with it.” That includes, he said, during any 
bicameral talks with the House.

 “I want that bill to go all the way through and no conferencing,” he
 said. “If it starts looking like they’re going to antics play with it 
you may not have any Republican votes.”

His definition of “antics play”: not modifying the RES itself but
 rather using it as a vehicle for something like a greenhouse gas
 cap-and-trade plan or “social agenda items that we just saw this

 Brownback presumably was referring to the failed vote this week to 
repeal the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy as part of the 2011 defense 
authorization bill.

Asked whether he can convince Republicans like Grassley to vote for
 the measure even if Reid does not allow amendments, Brownback said, 
“Maybe if you added ethanol to it. That’ll get Grassley.”