• Energy and Pipeline Safety
  • February 9, 2016 | Author: Andrew Zausner
  • Law Firm: Greenberg Traurig, LLP - Washington Office
  • After lifting the export ban on crude oil and extending tax credits for renewable energy at the end of the last session, Congress may have an appetite to pass more measures to reform the country’s energy policy. The Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012), a bipartisan energy overhaul bill sponsored by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), is currently awaiting action in the Senate. Their bill would streamline permitting for liquefied natural gas exports, enhance energy efficiency standards for government and commercial buildings, and require upgrades to the country’s power grid. Many experts believe that because the measure has bipartisan support, it may have an easier time passing Congress in the post-election session. The House passed a similar bill, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R. 8), in December 2015, but the White House and the majority of Congressional Democrats oppose this measure in its current form. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has expressed a willingness to modify H.R. 8 to gain more bipartisan support for the proposal. Lawmakers could include provisions regarding wildfire funding and management as part of a compromise energy bill.

    The omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed late last year extended the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power and wind energy, but did not include other renewable energy sources, such as fuel cells and geothermal energy. House and Senate Democrats have called for legislation to address this, and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has committed to taking up legislation that would do so.

    Congress may also take up legislation to reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in an effort to improve the safety of the nation’s oil and gas pipelines. In December 2015, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed legislation to reauthorize PHMSA through FY 2019 (S. 2276), and the House Energy and Commerce Committee has already scheduled two hearings on the subject.