WASHINGTON, July 28, 2015—The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee started its markup on a broad energy bill today, only finishing about a third of the 94 amendments that senators submitted for consideration.
The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 covers several areas, including electric grid modernization and energy storage, as well as provisions regarding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“What you have is the result of many, many months of efforts,” said Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who added that the committee will continue the markup Wednesday and Thursday.
Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., noted that the legislation “represents this committee’s first attempt to craft broad, bipartisan energy legislation since 2009…Since our last energy bill in 2007, the U.S. energy landscape has changed dramatically.”
While the legislation covers an array of energy issues, the committee leaders left out contentious issues in an effort to get the bill to the Senate floor. Murkowski encouraged members to withdraw any amendments that “could detract from bipartisan support.”
The bill does not include any provision to lift the export ban on crude oil, although Murkowski has a separate bill, the Offshore Production and Energizing National Security Act of 2015, which would authorize the export of all forms of crude oil and condensate produced in the United States.
During the markup, senators introduced and withdrew several amendments regarding solar power, rural school funding and other related issues. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., for one, withdrew his amendment to speed up permit requirements for pipelines, citing the Keystone XL Pipeline project that has been delayed for several years.
Many of the amendments will be introduced on the Senate floor when the entire chamber considers the bill.
The committee rejected a proposal from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., that would have placed energy savings requirements on retail electricity and natural gas suppliers. And one from Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., that would amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
During the “mega-markup,” the committee also approved the nomination of Jonathan Elkind as Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Affairs.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said in a blog post that “there is a lot to like for manufacturers in this bill,” including a provision that changes the licensing process for liquefied natural gas exports by imposing a 45-day deadline on a decision once all environmental reviews have been completed.
NAM testified in support of the language at a hearing earlier this year. “These projects–which are huge manufacturing job creators, by the way–deserve an up-or-down decision from the DOE as quickly as possible,” NAM argued.
A House subcommittee approved its version of an energy reform bill last week. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to consider the bill after the August recess.
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