Energy & Environment

Week ahead: Standoff threatens to kill energy efficiency bill

This week will open up with a high-stakes negotiations game between Senate Democrats and Republicans over an energy efficiency bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a cloture vote to end debate on the bill, which was put forward by the bipartisan duo of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

{mosads}But if an agreement on amendments isn’t reached, and Republicans don’t vote to end debate, the first energy bill to come to Senate floor since 2007 might die.

The debate has a déjà vu element, as the bill failed to pass last year under similar circumstances after lawmakers pushed a vote on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

This time, little has changed. Republicans want about four energy-related amendments to the bill, one of which would approve the controversial pipeline.

Reid said he would only allow a stand-alone binding vote on Keystone XL if the Senate moves forward on energy efficiency without amendments.

Senators attempting to work out a deal say the negotiations seem to be stuck on an amendment pushed by Republicans that would expedite natural gas exports to non-Free Trade Agreement countries.

Whether the two parties can wrap up negotiations in the final hours before a cloture vote on Monday remains to be seen.

With the House out this week, the political focus will remain on the Senate.

On Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Suzette Kimball to be director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Estevan Lopez to be commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation, and Monica Regalbuto as assistant secretary of environmental management for the Energy Department.

A Senate Environment and Pubic Works subpanel will hold a hearing Tuesday on pollution of the transportation infrastructure storm water runoff and how to solve it.

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will examine nuclear reactor decommissioning, and hear from a number of stakeholders.

Off Capitol Hill, the U.S. Energy Association will host a talk Tuesday on North American liquefied natural gas exports, and how they would impact the global market.

Natural gas exports remain a contentious issue in Congress, with many lawmakers pushing to expedite the sales to counter the power of Russia.

On Thursday, the Woodrow Wilson Center will hold a discussion on the national security measures needed given the accelerating risks of climate change.

Former Rep. Jan Harman (D-Calif.) will participate in the talk, along with retired Navy Adm. Lee Gunn, retired Navy Rear Adm. David Titley and retired Air Force Gen. Ron Keys.

Tags energy efficiency Harry Reid Jeanne Shaheen Keystone XL Natural gas Rob Portman
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