Energy and Climate Debate -
As Washington prepares for snow, energy issues continue to heat up in the second session of the 114th Congress.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who is up for reelection, is hoping to secure floor time as soon as possible for the bipartisan energy package (S. 2012) that cleared the committee last summer. Among other things, the measure includes language to increase energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy infrastructure, and grid security, as well as impose deadlines on the Department of Energy to make final decisions on natural gas exports, permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and expedite the licensing process for hydropower projects. Senate Democrats unveiled an alternative package focused on clean energy last fall that could preview some of the amendments likely to surface during floor debate. There is no guarantee that a bill will move in 2016, though there may be scaled back package, most likely before late fall. After a bipartisan effort fell apart last year in the House, the lower chamber approved its own energy bill (H.R. 8) before the close of the year on a near party line vote. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) said at the beginning of the year that he is open to removing some of the more controversial measures of the package in order to craft a more bipartisan measure. Representative Upton is interested in pursuing a measure that replaces the crude oil export language of the House-passed package with LNG language to reflect the Senate bill as well as return to a more bipartisan approach along the lines of what he had initially intended. Representative Upton and Senator Murkowski discussed a strategy during the annual Republican retreat last week, and following votes on the refugee bill this week, the Senate is likely to move to the bipartisan bill as early as next Tuesday, weather and other factors permitting. The measure could be a forum for a variety of amendment votes, including opposition for Obama administration regulations, the validity of climate science, and more.
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