Reform bill ‘getting smaller and smaller’ — Reid

Source: Geof Koss, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The scope of the House and Senate energy reform bill conference talks continues to shrink, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said today.

Energy discussions between the two chambers are coming down to the wire. Efforts to extend a key renewable energy tax break are also stalled, the Nevada Democrat said.

Reid told E&E News this afternoon that he spoke with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) this morning about the conference.

“She has hope and some limited confidence we can get it done right now,” he said during an interview in his office. “I hope that’s true. It keeps getting smaller and smaller.”

Aides to top conferees today had no information to share on the talks, which continued over the weekend. On Friday, House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said an agreement would likely have to be signed and filed today to allow both chambers to pass it before Congress leaves for the year.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told E&E News this afternoon, “I have not heard anything.”

Separately, Reid said he did not think Republicans would agree to extend key tax breaks for energy sources left out of last year’s bipartisan deal (Greenwire, Dec. 22, 2015).

That agreement extended and phased down the renewable production tax credit, the wind sector’s top incentive, and the investment tax credit for solar.

However, a drafting error that Reid blamed on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff left out other qualifying sources, including combined heat and power systems, geothermal, small wind and fuel cells.

“They don’t deny it, he just made a mistake,” Reid said of the Kentucky Republican’s office. “They haven’t corrected it, and I don’t think they’re going to. After more than a year, it’s just been rope-a-dope, so I don’t think it will get done.”

Reporter Arianna Skibell contributed.