Sen. Bingaman signals revival of parts of his energy bill next year

“I think a lot of what we have in the legislation is still good policy to be considered by the new Congress,” Bingaman said. Asked what provisions may have to change, given the incoming Republican minority in the chamber, Bingaman demurred, explaining that he has not had an opportunity to discuss plans with the committee’s current ranking Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

“Well, I’m not in a position yet to tell you what might have to change,” he said. “I think that will depend on discussions with committee members and with Sen. Murkowski. We haven’t had those meetings yet.”

Bingaman also said he is willing to work with lawmakers outside of the energy committee. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have all expressed interest in being involved in next year’s energy debate.

“Well, as I say, I think we’re going to work as hard as we can in the committee to produce what we believe is good energy legislation and we’re open to any suggestions for what that ought to include,” Bingaman said.

Bingaman also gave more details on his position on a “clean” energy standard for utilities, which would require a certain percentage of the country’s electricity to come from nuclear, low-emissions coal and renewables sources. The Hill reported Monday that he appeared open to the proposal, which he had previously opposed.

Asked if he would support such a proposal, he said, “It’s hard to answer that in a general way. The idea behind an RES is to provide incentives and encouragement for the development of new alternative energy technologies. There are all kinds of other provisions in the law that encourage the development of nuclear plants, which I’ve supported.”

Bingaman’s spokesman, Bill Wicker, told The Hill Tuesday that the lawmaker will “soon” talk about his legislative priorities for next year.

Murkowski, for her part, has been equally hesitant to weigh in on the details of an energy proposal next year. Murkowski’s spokesman, Robert Dillon, told The Hill that it’s “too soon” to discuss what an energy bill might look like next year.

Dillon pointed to last year’s energy bill. “We did an energy bill, a bipartisan one, more than a year ago with Sen. Bingaman,” he said. “That bill never saw the light of day at the choice of the majority leader. It’s unfortunate since I believe that bill help achieve much of what the president said he wanted on curbing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy production.”

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