Senate bill ‘in the queue’ for floor time

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 15, 2016

The bipartisan energy package that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer is in line to see floor time, but the exact timing isn’t yet set, according to a Senate GOP aide.

“ENR is in the queue and our staff is preparing for floor action,” Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Senate Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said today in an email, adding that a date has not been set but it could come up “soon.”

Murkowski has been angling to bring the bill (S. 2012) to the floor sooner rather than later, which — should it pass — would allow the Senate to conference with the House on companion legislation (H.R. 8), which passed the lower chamber last year (E&E Daily, Jan. 5).

One lobbyist said today that the bill could come up the week of Jan. 25 but was skeptical over its prospects, saying the desire by both Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to keep more controversial provisions from the measure may rob it of any serious impetus to make it a priority for many members.

However, one Senate Republican aide says the inclusion of language imposing a deadline on the Energy Department for making final decisions on applications to export natural gas — a long-standing priority for Republicans and some Democrats — adds momentum for the bill. The bill also contains provisions intended to boost renewables and efficiency, while strengthening the electric grid.

In an op-ed published today in The New York Times, Murkowski and Jay Faison — the founder of the ClearPath Foundation, which pushes conservative clean energy solutions — emphasize the potential of the bill’s hydropower provisions to curb greenhouse gas emissions, while noting the White House’s threat to veto the House bill, which includes similar provisions.

“President Obama has described climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing our country and has said he is open to new ideas to address it,” they wrote. “He can start by supporting legislation to increase the nation’s hydropower capacity, one of our vital renewable energy resources.”