Energy Efficiency Bill to Be First Keystone Amendment, Portman Says

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By Ari Natter

Jan. 8 — A slimmed-down version of long-stalled energy efficiency legislation will be the first amendment considered to Keystone legislation on the Senate floor next week, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the bill's Republican author, said Jan. 8.

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 includes measures that would loosen energy efficiency standards for grid-enabled water heaters, increase energy efficiency in government data centers and promote energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, “have made a commitment” that the legislation will be the first processed to the measure that would deem the Keystone pipeline approved.

The bill, which mirrors legislation that was passed in the House last year, contains four provisions from a broader version of energy efficiency legislation by Portman and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that never received a vote in the 113th Congress.

Republicans are interested in attaching it to the Keystone bill as a way of increasing Democratic support for the measure, which President Obama has said he would veto.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the author of the bill that would approve TransCanada Corp.'s. $8 billion pipeline, has said he has 63 supporters for the legislation. Sixty-seven are needed to override a veto.

Shaheen earlier told Bloomberg BNA she was opposed to attaching the broader energy efficiency legislation to the Keystone measure, saying “it should stand on its own,” but she said in a statement Jan. 8 that she supported including the smaller bill as an amendment.

The broader bill, which is backed by companies such as Dow Chemical Co. and the investor-owned utility National Grid, would authorize funding for measures to increase energy conservation in the federal government, establish voluntary national model building codes and boost energy efficiency in the manufacturing and commercial sectors.

“I'm pleased to have the opportunity to introduce key portions of our energy efficiency bill today and look forward to updating and introducing the other components later this Congress,” Portman said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com