Senate Democrats to unveil broad legislation

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Senate Democrats today will introduce a comprehensive energy package with an emphasis on boosting clean technology.

This morning’s unveiling, led by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and including Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is intended to outline “a Democratic vision for a cleaner energy future,” according to an advisory released yesterday.

“The bill addresses the need for new jobs, updated infrastructure and technological innovation,” it said. “Specifically, the proposal includes programs essential to renewed economic growth in the energy sector that empower consumers, modernize infrastructure, cut carbon pollution and waste, invest in clean energy technologies, and support research and development.”

The measure builds on a June letter Senate Democrats sent to governors seeking input on what policies should be addressed in legislation (E&E Daily, July 7).

The idea for a Democratic bill came as Cantwell and Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were involved in lengthy discussions over a bipartisan energy package that advanced through the committee in July. Murkowski has said she’d like to see that measure on the floor this fall, although it’s unclear whether a busy agenda will allow that to happen.

However, the bipartisan energy bill in recent weeks has taken a back seat to the GOP push to lift the long-standing ban on crude oil exports.

There’s appetite on both sides of the Capitol for some sort of legislative deal to do so, with Reid last month suggesting more tax credits for renewables could help attract Democrats.

Today’s unveiling also comes ahead of Pope Francis’ long-awaited address to Congress, where he’s expected to reference his encyclical on climate change, which would give a symbolic boost to Democrats’ calls to curb emissions.

Other lawmakers expected to participate in today’s Capitol Hill news conference include Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.).