Energy bill

If there is any bill that appears to have a chance of breaking the congressional deadlock this year, it is the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.
The bill, which had gotten bipartisan support in committee and was endorsed by more than 200 business groups, would strengthen building codes for homes and commercial buildings, encourage manufacturing and supply-chain efficiency, and require the federal government to use energy savings techniques in its data centers.
But the bill collapsed Monday over unrelated amendments that some congressman wanted attached to the bill. The measure needed 60 votes to move forward, but the Senate voted 55-to-36 to cut off debate.
It could be reintroduced if negotiators find a way to deal with amendments involving the Keystone XL Pipeline and other contentious issues.
If it isn’t, and the bill dies, it will be yet another missed opportunity for the Senate to approve its first energy bill since 2007.
It would also be especially disappointing for Portman, who has said the bill would make the economy more productive, create jobs, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
The bill would seem to be a good deal for American consumers, businesses and the economy.
Last year, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found that the United States ranked ninth in energy efficiency out of 12 of the largest economies.
The energy efficiency offered in the bill could help the U.S. become a more energy-efficient economy.
An analysis of the bill found that it would provide consumer savings of $59 billion and create 159,000 jobs by 2030.
A preliminary analysis found that the Shaheen-Portman bill would save about 9.5 quadrillion Btu’s between 2014-2030, or nearly one-tenth of the annual energy use of the U.S.
Co-sponsors had dropped costly provisions and worked to offset new spending by reducing other spending authorizations. It does not add a dime to the deficit.
The deadlock came after Republicans demanded a vote on an amendment to advance the Keystone XL Pipeline, a GOP priority and controversial measure that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to allow a separate vote, but only on a stand-alone Keystone bill. Republicans also sought votes on several additional amendments, including one blocking new environmental regulations capping emissions at coal plants. Democrats opposed the amendments.
Portman said he was disappointed with developments, but said he hopes Reid will bring the bill up again if negotiators can iron out an agreement. But even should a deal can be reached on Keystone and other contentious issues, there’s no guarantee the measure will pass. Not with this predictable Congress, and especially not in an election year.

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