Senate rebuffs monument limits, efficiency standard

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Senate is working its way through a mini vote-a-rama this afternoon, as the chamber looks to complete work on its bipartisan energy package later this week.

Senators yesterday afternoon voted on eight of 257 amendments filed to the energy bill, S. 2012. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said this afternoon that negotiations were underway for roll call votes on another tranche of amendments tomorrow.

The chamber rejected on a 47-48 vote an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to sunset presidential national monument designations unless Congress or the hosting state enacts legislation making them permanent.

Conservation advocates, tribal groups and the NAACP had all urged senators to oppose Lee’s amendment (Greenwire, Feb. 2).

Senators also voted 43-52 against an amendment by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to create a national energy efficiency resource standard — a top priority for Democrats.

An amendment by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to direct the Interior and Agriculture departments to create a landowner education program for conservation incentives passed by voice vote.

The chamber rejected on a 52-43 vote an amendment offered by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to expedite the permitting process for natural gas gathering lines on federal and tribal land. It needed 60 votes to pass.

Co-sponsor Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) urged colleagues to support the plan, noting that it would help reduce flaring of natural gas, but Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) opposed the plan, which she dubbed “Keystone XL lite.”

Senators were also voting this afternoon on the following measures:

  • An amendment by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) requiring federal agencies to repeal or amend one regulation before issuing or revising a new one.
  • An amendment by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to phase out fossil fuel tax breaks in concert with winding down incentives for renewables.
  • An amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to increase funding for the Energy Department’s Office of Science.
  • An amendment by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to require campaign finance disclosures for certain people who benefit from fossil fuels.