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 RyanGOP rep: Virginia defeat 'a referendum' on Trump administration After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Pence: Praying 'takes nothing away' from trying to figure out causes behind mass shooting 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 Ann MurkowskiMoore digs in amid mounting GOP criticism Republicans float pushing back Alabama special election Moore defends himself as pressure mounts MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule Senators spar over proposal to drill in Alaska wildlife refuge Fake quorum calls are an excuse for the Senate's inaction 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.”