On September 8, House and Senate conferees met for the first time to consider the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016, the comprehensive energy reform bill that has slowly been making its way through Congress. The meeting marked the first time since 2005 that the House and Senate have held a conference on a comprehensive energy bill.
Leaders in the Senate and, to a lesser extent, in the House, have been working to pass a comprehensive energy bill since early in the 114th Congress. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) held multiple listening sessions and hearings on the bill before it passed the Committee in July 2015. The bill then easily passed the full Senate in April 2016, as we previously reported. The bill that passed the House at the end of 2015 differed greatly from the Senate-passed bill and was a more partisan effort, with only nine Democrats voting in favor. Regardless, the House and the Senate agreed to begin the conference process on the bill in July 2016.
The Senate-passed bill contains six titles focused on energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, conservation, and resources (public lands and water). Specific provisions would enhance energy savings; protect electric reliability; facilitate the modernization of the electric grid; promote the development of hydropower, geothermal, methane hydrates; enhance cybersecurity efforts; bolster mineral security; and streamline the federal approval process for LNG exports. The House-passed bill includes some of these provisions, but Democrats have been critical of the House bill’s focus on fossil fuels and its failure to address global warming.
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