Bipartisanship? It's happening to secure America's energy future
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It seems that everywhere you look, America’s politics are dominated by divisiveness and polarization. The hyperpartisan healthcare debate is only one of the issues in which the parties seem so divided that legislative progress has come to a standstill.

Making progress on tax reform, rejuvenating our aging infrastructure and simply keeping the government running will all pose challenges for Congress. Watch the evening news on any given day, and you might naturally find yourself wondering if Congress can still effectively legislate and govern. However, look past the media headlines and you will be pleasantly surprised to find productive work underway in congressional committees.

Recently, Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMoore digs in amid mounting GOP criticism Republicans float pushing back Alabama special election Moore defends himself as pressure mounts MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule Senators spar over proposal to drill in Alaska wildlife refuge Fake quorum calls are an excuse for the Senate's inaction MORE (D-Wash.) introduced a major bipartisan bill aimed at securing a prosperous and sustainable energy future for America. The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 — shaped by a rigorous, bipartisan process that actually began in the last Congress — has been placed directly on the Senate calendar for expedited floor consideration. If enacted, the legislation would modernize outdated laws to capitalize on our nation’s energy abundance and create a foundation for accelerating technological innovation and clean energy.

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Murkowski and Cantwell’s bill addresses many of the objectives and recommendations from an effort we led at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Our diverse group of technical experts, business leaders and policy advocates supported measures to increase the efficiency of decisionmaking on liquefied natural gas exports, develop technology grid modernization and energy storage demonstration programs, increase energy efficiency for buildings and manufacturing, and reauthorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency on Energy and components of the America Competes Act energy innovation programs that are essential to develop the breakthroughs needed to provide clean, affordable and secure low-carbon energy.

 

The legislation builds on the collaborative and detailed work of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. In true bipartisan fashion, numerous hearings were held in the Senate Energy Committee, allowing for the constructive collision of ideas among colleagues. Ultimately, final legislation included provisions from more than 80 senators.

In April 2016, the Energy Policy Modernization Act passed with 85 senators supporting the first major energy legislation in a decade. While the House and Senate ran out of time to produce joint legislation in the last Congress, the 2016 legislation provides a sound starting point for Murkowski and Cantwell’s renewed bipartisan efforts this year.

During our tenure in the Senate, we were proud to be a part of passing broad-based bipartisan energy legislation in 2005 and 2007. This legislation played a significant role in accelerating energy efficiency, increasing domestic production and reducing polluting emissions. However, American ingenuity and innovation have dramatically transformed the energy landscape over the last decade. It is time for Congress to again catch up and modernize our nation’s energy policy framework.

We commend Murkowski and Cantwell for their commitment to securing America’s energy future. The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 is a significant accomplishment in advancing our nation’s economic, environment and security interests. Finally, this bipartisan bill reminds us what is possible if Congress can move beyond destructive rhetoric and work together in good faith to solve the biggest problems facing America’s citizens.

Trent Lott served as U.S. senator from Mississippi from 1989 to 2007.

Byron Dorgan served as U.S. senator from North Dakota from 1992 to 2011.

Both authors are senior fellows at the Bipartisan Policy Center.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.