Green groups come out against Senate energy reform bill

Greg Nash

Eleven major environment and conservation groups came out against a Senate energy policy overhaul bill on Monday. 

The groups — a list that includes major players like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, among others — said there “several provisions in this bill that we believe could cause detrimental effects to public health and our environment.”

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In a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiSenators seek state revenue sharing for offshore drilling Senate panel approves 0M for international climate fund GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (R-Alaska) and ranking member Maria CantwellMaria CantwellMenendez rails against Puerto Rico bill for 4 hours on floor Week ahead: Wait drags on for energy talks The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Wash.), the groups listed ten sections of the 357-page bill that they said put environmental causes at risk. 

Among them are provisions to speed up permitting for liquefied natural gas exports and mining operations, a section repealing a fossil fuel phase-out for federal buildings and changes to hydropower regulations that they say could put fish and wildlife at risk. 

The groups said the bill could endanger Environmental Protection Agency public health programing and argued it doesn’t go far enough to invest in clean energy and reduce greenhouse gasses.

“Unless these concerns are addressed, we are unable to support this bill,” the groups said in their letter, which comes before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee begins marking up the bill on Tuesday.

Opposing the bill puts the groups at odds with Cantwell, a Democrat who helped write the legislation.

The Senate’s energy reform bill is a bipartisan package, the product of months’ worth of hearings and negotiations between Murkowski and Cantwell and their staff. The two are co-authors of the legislation and publicized its introduction last week.

The green groups acknowledged that bipartisan work in their letter, and praised a handful of provisions in the bill, including reauthorization for a conservation program and efforts to boost the energy grid and energy efficiency. 

“Authoring a bill of such complexity in a bipartisan manner is a truly impressive accomplishment,” the groups wrote, “but that does not justify removing key environmental protections.”