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 RyanDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page Overnight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief's net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronaut Poll: Disapproval growing of Paul Ryan, GOP Congress 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 MurkowskiTrump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Republican Sen. Collins considering run for Maine governor in 2018 Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria CantwellReport: GOP lawmakers selling access to top staffers Bipartisan group demands answers on United incident Cohn backs modern version of Glass-Steagall: report 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.”