Week ahead: Crunch time for energy bills

Congress has at most 28 days left to pass legislation after lawmakers' July 4 recess, before they turn their attention to November’s midterm elections.

That means there is only a tiny window for any meaningful energy legislation to reach the Senate floor this year. 

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The House just wrapped up a week dedicated to energy bills, all of which put pressure on the Senate, especially vulnerable Democrats in fossil-fuel-heavy states, and President Obama.

The House passed a range of bills this week covering cross-border energy pipelines, natural gas exports, and offshore oil and gas drilling. 

By passing the cross-border pipeline bill, which essentially eliminates Obama's authority to review pipelines that cross the border from Canada and Mexico into the U.S., Republicans hope to draw attention to the Keystone XL permitting process.

Passage of Rep. Cory Gardner's (R-Colo.) bill, which would expedite natural gas exports to countries without free trade agreements with the U.S., could also give him a political edge in his Senate race. 

Gardner is challenging Sen. Mark Udall (D) for his seat this year, and Udall's own legislation on natural gas exports will likely stall in Senate committee.

While Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has committed to do everything in her power to hold a markup on Udall's gas export bill, the odds appear to be against it.

When asked if she thought the committee would hold a markup on the bill after this week's recess, the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said she wasn't sure.

"We are still waiting and seeing on that one," Murkowski said, adding that the committee still needs to hold a full hearing on it. 

There might be some movement on a number of public land bills, however, and further discussion on exports in general.

"We will continue to push on some of the issues as it relates to exports," Murkowski vowed.

It also remains to be seen whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will come to a deal on the appropriations package that has been stalled due to an anti-Environmental Protection Agency measure McConnell wants a vote on.  

Stay tuned to see if the Senate makes any energy waves after the recess.

Off Capitol Hill this week, the Natural Resources Defense Council is holding a conference call Tuesday on how climate change could cause problems this summer. 

From heat waves to bad air alert days, insects and dangerous swimming conditions, the green group says climate change might be to blame. 

Also on Tuesday, the Woodrow Wilson Center will host a discussion on Russia, Ukraine and energy security. 

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle will participate in the conversation, along with Carlos Pascual, head of the Bureau of Energy Resources at the State Department.

Lastly, the Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a talk on the European Union's energy security and transatlantic cooperation. 

Dominique Ristori, the director of energy for the European Commission, will join the conversation.