Speaker’s office: No energy bill this year

Speaker’s office: No energy bill this year
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers negotiating an energy reform package have run out of time to come to a deal.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan reminds lawmakers to be on time for votes Lawmakers consider new security funding in wake of shooting Paul Ryan: ‘Beautiful day’ to catch up with Bono MORE’s office said Wednesday that Congress will not pass an energy reform bill this session, scrapping two years of work lawmakers had hoped would yield the first major energy package in a decade. 

The announcement, coming days ahead of Congress's expected holiday adjournment, means the end for behind-the-scenes negotiations aimed at combining the energy bills passed separately by the House and Senate this year. 

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“The conferees were not able to come to agreement on various outstanding issues in time for the House to consider a conference report,” Ryan press secretary AshLee Strong said in an email on Wednesday. 

Spokespeople for chief Senate negotiators Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiGOP Medicaid cuts will be disastrous for millions with Alzheimer’s Overnight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Wash.) didn’t immediately comment Wednesday. 

Members began working on an energy reform effort after the 2014 elections, with the goal of passing a bill to expand energy production and streamline federal rules this session. The energy industry was also hopeful the effort would result in legislation. 

But the House and Senate went in different directions with their bills, setting up a difficult end-of-session effort to reconcile them.

In its bill, the House included conservative provisions opposed by Democrats, such as a GOP package to relieve the California drought and a measure to bypass environmental regulations for energy projects on Native American land, among others. 

The Senate bill was less broad and attracted more bipartisan support, aiming to clear the way for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, expand energy efficiency programs and lock in federal conservation programs indefinitely.

Members convened a conference committee in September but couldn’t bridge the significant gap between their bills. 

As of November, Murkowski and Cantwell said in a statement that month, negotiators were still grappling with issues “related to LNG exports, sportsmen’s, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, hydropower, natural gas pipelines, manufacturing, innovation, carbon benefits of biomass, critical minerals” and “provisions related to California’s drought crisis, to remedy wildfire funding challenges, and to improve forest management.”