Senate legislative package remains work in progress 

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) met last week about the bill but acknowledged that staff members have their work cut out for them to meet her self-appointed deadline of moving a bill before the long summer break.

“Really we’re looking forward to this Fourth of July period where staff can really sit down uninterrupted and move through some of this stuff,” she told E&E Daily. “So when we get back that following week, that’s when you’re probably going to see a lot more.”

Committee aides say discussions on the bill are ongoing, but legislative language has yet to materialize, in large part because of the more than 100 bills that have been referred to the panel since Murkowski announced plans to move comprehensive legislation earlier this year. The bills span a range of policy arenas, including production, infrastructure, efficiency and accountability.

Murkowski has signaled she plans to move the bill through committee with bipartisan support, but the hearings have also been interspersed with more controversial issues that will likely run into trouble on the Democratic side of the aisle, including expanded offshore drilling and revenue sharing with coastal states, as well as reversing the long-standing ban on crude exports.

Both are top Murkowski priorities, but it remains to be seen how they fit in with her broader energy push.

Committee member John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said yesterday that he’s waiting to hear from Murkowski what will be in the underlying legislation but signaled plans to push his own controversial bills as amendments either in committee or the floor.

“There’s any number of them that I may offer,” he told E&E Daily, citing proposals aimed at ensuring that states remain the lead regulators on hydraulic fracturing, and easing the permitting process for natural gas gathering lines and cross-border energy infrastructure projects, as top legislative priorities.