Senate sends conference proposal to House

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 31, 2016

Senate energy conferees have sent a proposed conference report to their House counterparts, as the two chambers ready a lame-duck push to complete the first comprehensive energy bill in nearly a decade.

“The House and Senate are working in partnership to assemble a bipartisan conference report that will be considered during the lame duck,” Nicole Daigle, spokeswoman for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said today.

“We are optimistic that the conferees will succeed in assembling a compromise that strikes a balance between the two chambers’ positions, that attracts bipartisan support, and that the president will sign into law,” she added.

Additional details of the proposal were unavailable.

Staff are said to have been working long hours over the congressional break on a possible compromise between the chambers’ competing bills, which both address infrastructure issues, efficiency and sportsmen’s provisions, as well as imposing a new deadline for the Energy Department to make final decisions on applications to export natural gas.

However, there are widely varying approaches between the two bills within some of these areas. In recent days, interest groups have been pressing conferees in particular on competing efficiency provisions (Greenwire, Oct. 27).

The Senate bill also includes a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that is problematic in the House, where Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has said the Senate proposal would have to include reform elements to survive in conference talks.

Both chambers are also discussing drought and wildfire provisions — thorny issues that add additional layers of complexity to negotiations.

Murkowski, the conference chairwoman, has expressed optimism that negotiations will yield a compromise acceptable to lawmakers and the White House, but has acknowledged that more contentious issues may have to be left by the wayside.

ClearView Energy Partners earlier this month put the odds for a consensus bill that resembles the Senate bill (S. 2012) at 60 percent.