White House cites ‘concerns’ with Senate energy bill

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The White House on Wednesday said it has “concerns” with many of the provisions in a wide-ranging energy bill being debated in the Senate.

But it stopped short of threatening to veto the legislation, saying it supports many major aspects in it and wants to work with lawmakers to resolve problems. 

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“The administration appreciates the bipartisan support for addressing key energy and conservation priorities,” the White House wrote in a note to the Senate on Wednesday.

“Modernizing the nation's energy system and the policies that govern it has been a central focus of the administration's efforts to combat climate change, strengthen energy security and resilience, and enhance our economic competitiveness,” it added.

The bill, which the Senate formally started to debate Wednesday, contains numerous minor priorities from both Republicans and Democrats such as expediting liquefied natural gas export approvals and indefinitely renewing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiBig Oil makes a push for risky and reckless Arctic drilling GOP divided over 0M for climate fund Overnight Energy: House passes first Interior, EPA spending bill in seven years MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellRemembering small business during the presidential election GOP energy negotiator accuses Senate chairman of 'bizarre' promise House chairman: Energy bill unlikely before election MORE (D-Wash.) drafted the bill with the stated goal of remaining bipartisan.

The White House welcomed much of the legislation, particularly the parts dealing with energy efficiency, infrastructure and conservation.

But officials said they have “concerns” with provisions it said could hamper efficiency programs, national laboratories and cybersecurity, among other parts.

“The administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address these and other concerns as the bill moves through the legislative process,” it said.