Top GOP senator: Keystone won't kill efficiency bill

The GOP-controlled House already has passed legislation authorizing the construction of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline’s northern leg. That portion of the project is under federal review, and its supporters have accused President Obama of dragging his feet on a decision.

Murkowski explained that the Senate already has voted on Keystone, saying that it wouldn’t “be some great surprise” to show where lawmakers stand on it with another vote.

The Shaheen-Portman bill tentatively scheduled to reach the Senate floor later this month, which would be the first time the Senate considers a substantive energy bill since 2007. It would authorize a series of provisions designed to boost efficiency among manufacturers, the federal government and homeowners.

But controversial amendments threaten to derail it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked a similar bill from getting to the floor last session because senators were looking to check the upper chamber’s pulse on the pipeline project and Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rules.

Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been working closely with the bill’s sponsors on limiting contentious amendments from other senators.

While she doesn’t consider Hoeven’s amendment a deal-breaker, she said there’s still potential for divisive provisions to emerge.

She said the bill supporter’s are still working on an agreement regarding amendments but need to evaluate whether it can get to the floor without a deal ahead of time.

“I’m also cognizant that there are other issues in the energy sphere that also bring their own level of controversy. And again, my interest is trying to figure out how we can thread this needle so that we get this bill passed. I don’t want any poison pill,” she said.

One problematic amendment may be a proposal Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) touted on Thursday.

The Wyoming Republican’s plan would strip the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, instead giving that authority to Congress. He said that he wants to file it as an amendment to the Shaheen-Portman bill.