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By Ari Natter
Jan. 14 — A broad energy bill that includes language to expedite the federal approval process for liquefied natural gas exports could be brought to the Senate floor by month's end, a Republican leadership aide told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 14.
While it is “certainly possible” legislation could be on the floor this month, the aide cautioned in an e-mail that there is “nothing locked” in place yet.
Multiple lobbyists told Bloomberg BNA that the bill was could be brought to the floor after the Senate acts on legislation related to Syrian refugee policy, possibly the week of Jan. 25.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) previously told Bloomberg BNA she had received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) the bill was “in the queue” for floor consideration (07 ECR, 1/12/16).
The five-part bill (S. 2012) includes provisions that would strengthen building codes, among other energy-efficiency measures, as well as provisions that would increase cyber-security protections for the electricity grid and expedite the licensing process for hydropower projects.
Though the bill by Murkowski easily passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that she chairs on a 18-4 vote, its path ahead remains rocky as the measure is expected to attract contested amendments, according to observers such as Cheryl Wilson, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.
“It's doubtful the measure ever gets off the senate floor,” an energy lobbyist told Bloomberg BNA.
A fight over amendments, such as a measure that would have limited the Environmental Protection Agency regulation of carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, led to the demise of a bipartisan energy efficiency bill (S. 2262) in 2014 (91 ECR, 5/12/14).
However, Robert Dillon, spokesman for Murkowski and other Republicans on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, dismissed the notion the bill wouldn't make it off the floor and pointed to the passage of legislation (S. 1) that would have required the Obama administration's approval of the Keystone XL pipeline last January.
“Sen. Murkowski has a record of successfully managing legislation on the floor. I don't see what's going to be different this time,” Dillon said in an interview.
The legislation, dubbed the Energy Policy Modernization Act, could become the first broad rewrite of energy policy since 2007 if enacted into law.
The wide-ranging legislation also includes measures that would repeal a section of law that requires federal buildings to phase out fossil fuels by 2030, authorize funding for grid-storage research within the Department of Energy and streamline the federal approval process for natural gas pipeline projects.
The House version of the bill (H.R. 8) was passed by a vote of 249-174, amidst a veto threat and nearly unanimous opposition by Democrats.
That bill would expedite the Energy Department's consideration of licenses to export liquefied natural gas, increase security of the nation's electric grid and speed up the review time for federal permitting of natural gas pipelines (232 ECR, 12/3/15).
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