Latest News on the Energy Bill

Thu, 2010-08-05 11:43

In an effort to keep you updated on the status of all things related to green energy, sustainability, and the proposed Energy Bill in the senate, here is the latest news on the subject:

Reid Plans Cloture Votes on Dueling Energy Bills This Week

The Senate this week will hold test votes on competing Democratic and Republican energy bills, Majority Leader Harry Reid said today, but neither measure is expected to pass before senators leave for a monthlong recess.

Reid said he will hold cloture votes on two energy and oil spill measures, one from Democrats and a Republican alternative.

"We're going to have competing energy bills," the Nevada Democrat said today on the Senate floor. "We will set up a time to have debates on that. We would have competing cloture votes on those two measures, the Democrat and Republican energy issues that we have put into bills for a vote prior to the recess."

Democratic leaders are currently negotiating with Republicans on plans to hold cloture votes on the competing bills Wednesday, a spokesman for Reid said.

But neither bill currently has enough support to pass. And even if either side found the needed 60 votes Wednesday, procedural hurdles would likely eat up valuable floor time and prevent senators from holding a final vote on the legislation before they leave for recess this weekend. The debate could continue in September.

Reid wants to fit the energy votes amid debate on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, small business legislation, a child nutrition measure, a defense authorization bill and other nominations.

Reid acknowledged it is "quite a bit" to push through in a week. "But each of them, I think we have a way forward to get this done," he said.

The Democrats' energy bill addresses a number of issues in response to the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, requires oil and gas drillers using hydraulic fracturing to disclose information about the chemicals used, creates an energy-efficiency retrofit program, provides tax breaks for natural gas vehicles and infrastructure, and boosts funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

But Republicans and some moderate oil-state Democrats have serious concerns about language that would eliminate liability caps for companies involved in oil spills and the lack of language that would lift the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling. Republicans have also raised concerns about other provisions, including the hydraulic fracturing language.

The GOP bill, on the other hand, would quickly lift the deepwater drilling moratorium on rigs that meet new inspection criteria, provide a more industry-friendly spill liability formula than Democrats are promoting and formally reorganize the Interior Department agency that oversees offshore drilling.

GOP concerns

Republicans have chided Reid for moving too quickly on the oil spill-response measure and for his purported plans not to allow amendments to the Democratic bill.

By allowing a vote on the GOP alternative bill, Reid is hoping to deflect criticism that he did not allow Republicans to advance their proposals, said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who co-sponsored the Republican bill.

On the other hand, Reid's oil spill package was not designed to pass, Dillon said. "This was only designed to make Republicans look bad," he said.

Dillon accused Reid of seeking a vote on the spill bill so Democrats could head home claiming that the GOP had sided with Big Oil.

"This is clearly designed to give them a political talking point in August, and I think the American people expect more from the senators and I think they see through this," Dillon said.

Article provided by Katie Howell and Robin Bravender

What we here at Everblue take away from this news is that both the Republican and Democratic Parties are interested in pushing Energy legislation through. As this point it is oil related issues that are delaying the final votes on these bills and everyone can agree that passing the energy portion is important.

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