SPONSORED:

Senate energy bill negotiations could be delayed until after recess

Senate energy bill negotiations could be delayed until after recess
© Camille Fine

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats allege EPA plans to withhold funding from 'anarchist' cities | Montana asks court to throw out major public lands decisions after ousting BLM director | It's unknown if fee reductions given to oil producers prevented shutdowns Democrats allege EPA plans to withhold funding from 'anarchist' cities Energy innovation bill can deliver jobs and climate progress MORE (D-Del.) said Wednesday that negotiations on sweeping and bipartisan energy legislation will cool down over next week’s recess amid disputes over a potential amendment to the legislation. 

A proposal introduced by Carper and Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has held up negotiations on the energy package put forth by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate to vote Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court Senate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court This week: Clock ticks on chance for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears MORE (D-W.Va.).

“Sen Kennedy's advice was ‘Why don't we just all go home to our home states and let people calm down and come back,’” Carper told The Hill. “And I think there's actually some wisdom in that.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Opponents of the measure to reduce the use of the heat-trapping chemical have pushed for the addition of language that would prevent states from adding additional regulations on top of the federal rule. 

A Senate aide told reporters that Carper and Kennedy have offered a compromise that would preempt states from putting their own laws in place for two years. 

A spokesman for Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoHillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G Energy innovation bill can deliver jobs and climate progress MORE (R-Wyo.), one of the most vocal opponents of the HFCs measure, told The Hill in a statement that this compromise isn’t “real preemption.”

“The minority office offered a two-year pause on state regulation,” said spokesman Mike Danylak. “That will only delay the issue two years.”

He added that Barrasso “has concerns with any legislative effort that will layer new federal rules on a patchwork of current or future state rules – including state rules in two years. Chairman Barrasso still awaits a counter offer from the minority that includes real preemption language.”

ADVERTISEMENT

A Carper spokesperson, however, pushed back, saying that Barrasso wants “permanent removal — from both states and EPA — of the authority to regulate the uses of HFCs.”

“Senator Carper does not support a policy approach that permanently leaves no one with the authority to regulate HFC usage,” his spokesperson told The Hill in an email. 

Meanwhile, Murkowski said Wednesday that while her legislation is delayed, it is still in play. 

“What I’m trying to figure out right now is how we end up with what we started to do which is to put in place energy reforms,” she told reporters. “We’re stalled out right now, but we are not dead.”

She also said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief LGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress MORE (R-Ky.) has made a “good” and “solid” commitment to her on the bill. 

“We will work through this, but I also recognize that you have limited daylight in an election year to legislate,” she said. 

The Murkowski-Manchin legislation would spur research on a number of types of energy and is the first major package on the topic in more than a decade.

The HFC amendment has become a sticking point on the legislation, with Kennedy and Carper pushing for a vote. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Trump to lift Sudan terror sponsor designation MORE (D-N.Y.) has threatened to filibuster if it's not considered.

The White House, meanwhile, is among those expressing opposition to the amendment, citing a lack of preemption language. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.