US Senate picks members for conference on broad energy policy reforms

The US Senate named seven of its members on July 12 to confer with a group from the House of Representatives on broad energy policy reform legislation. “This vote is a critical milestone that will allow Congress to begin the first conference on major energy legislation in more than a decade,” said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), who introduced the original bill with Ranking Minority Member Maria E. Cantwell (D-Wash.) in 2015.

“While we have differences to resolve, I am confident we are up to the task. Our bicameral negotiations will begin immediately so that a good final bill can be signed into law this year,” Murkowski continued. She and Cantwell were named to the conference with Republicans John A. Barrasso (Wyo.), James Rich (Ida.) and John Cornyn (Tex.); Democrat Ronald L. Wyden (Ore.) and Independent Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

“We met with our House colleagues, [Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Natural Resource Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who said that they didn't want to waste time on things that are going to be vetoed by [President Barack Obama),” Cantwell separately said. “We took that as a good sign that they were willing to sit down and talk about legislation that could move forward in a positive fashion.”

The House passed an amended version of energy policy reform legislation in late May that the US Senate previously approved (OGJ Online, May 26, 2016). House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) appointed Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and 12 other Republicans to help lead House negotiators in the upcoming conference with the Senate.

Officials from several oil and gas industry associations said the Senate’s most recent action represents continued progress on legislation to reform national energy policies which have been in place for decades.

“At a time when Congress is perceived as accomplishing little, it is gratifying to see that progress is being made on what could be the first comprehensive energy bill passed in nearly a decade,” National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi said. “Much has changed since Congress passed its last energy bill in 2007. Through ingenuity and hard-work, the US is the global leader now in oil and gas production. With the right federal policies, it is well-positioned to retain this title for the foreseeable future.”

“This bill could help continue the US energy renaissance by strengthening our nation’s energy infrastructure, ensuring that American natural gas has a dominant place on the world market, and putting in place a 21st century workforce,” American Petroleum Institute Executive Vice-Pres. Lewis Finkel separately noted. “It’s estimated that almost a million jobs could be created by 2020 if our nation’s current renaissance continues.”

Center for Liquefied Natural Gas Executive Director Charlie Riedl urged conference committee members to ensure that the final bill contains provisions which expedite reviews of LNG export applications. “Both chambers have previously passed legislation with bipartisan support that would establish a defined window of time for the US Department of Energy to act on export applications to non-free trade agreement countries once National Environmental Policy Act reviews are complete,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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