U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the committee’s ranking member, today led the Senate’s approval of their broad, bipartisan energy legislation by a vote of 85 to 12. The passage of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, marks the first time the Senate has approved a major energy bill in almost a decade.
“The Senate’s overwhelming approval of our broad, bipartisan bill is a significant victory that brings us much closer to our goal of modernizing our nation’s energy policies. From minerals to hydropower to innovation, this bill features a wide range of provisions that will strengthen our economy, our security, and our standing in the world,” Murkowski said. “I now look forward to working with members of the House to ensure that it continues to move forward – through their chamber, through a conference with the House of Representatives, and into law before the end of this Congress.”
“We are passing today the first energy bill since 2007, almost 9 years. It is a modernization of America’s energy system, which is urgently needed. This bill will push us towards cleaner, more efficient, more cost-effective and renewable energy sources, by: modernizing our electricity grid, making investments in next generation technologies like storage, smart buildings, advanced vehicles and composite materials. It improves our cybersecurity and will train the workforce of tomorrow,” Cantwell said.
Murkowski and Cantwell noted the open debate process surrounding the bill, with the Senate accepting more than 60 amendments offered by colleagues on both sides of the aisle during floor debate. An amendment prepared by Murkowski and Cantwell and approved Tuesday – to add a resources title to the underlying bill – featured a package of 30 discrete lands and water bills that are particularly critical to western states. The final bill, as approved by the Senate, now includes priorities sponsored or cosponsored by 80 members of the Senate.
Murkowski and Cantwell also highlighted the open committee process that led to the bipartisan energy bill. That process featured dozens of listening sessions, four oversight hearings, six legislative hearings on more than 100 bills, weeks of staff-level negotiations, and the committee’s strongly bipartisan approval of the energy bill at a multi-day markup in July 2015.
“I thank all of my Senate colleagues, and especially Senator Cantwell and Leader McConnell, for working with me to pass this bipartisan bill. Without their shared commitment to an open, collaborative process, we would not have made it this far, and we would not be on the verge of enacting a sweeping set of energy, mineral, lands, and water policies that will benefit every American,” Murkowski said.
As passed by the Senate today, the Energy Policy Modernization Act contains six titles focused on 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, and other resources; provide important flexibility to the Alaska gasline project; enhance cybersecurity efforts; bolster mineral security; streamline the federal approval process for LNG exports; and repeal a range of obsolete authorities currently within the U.S. Code. The measure also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, while ensuring balance in the use of our nation’s federal lands.
The resources title sponsored by Murkowski and Cantwell was adopted yesterday by a vote of 97 to 0. As a result of the provisions it contains, the bipartisan energy bill will establish a new national policy for federal agencies to expand and enhance sportsmen’s opportunities and make “open unless closed” the standard for access to federal lands throughout the United States. The bill also enhances drought resilience and sustainability in the Yakima River Basin through a collaborative plan that the Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor called a “model.”
More information on the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.