Congress Punts Energy Reform to Trump Administration

Energy reform two years in the making sustained another setback Wednesday with word from House Majority leadership that a compromise won’t happen by the time Congress adjourns this year.

The House of Representatives and Senate members assigned to work out sticking points on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 can’t agree on various issues in time for the House to consider a final bill, House Speaker Ryan Paul’s press secretary AshLee Strong told media this week.

However, one of the chief architects of the bill, Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that despite assertions several items remained to be sorted out, only two issues haven't been resolved.

“Both of those issues can easily be resolved, in plenty of time before congressional adjournment, if the will exists in the House to work through them in good faith,” Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “In fact, on both issues, the Senate has already written and proposed the modifications we know are necessary to reach final agreement, only to receive no substantive response.”

The two chambers had overcome differences on several critical components, she said, including wildfire budgeting, timber management reforms, sportsmen’s provisions, a west-wide water package, a robust public lands title, the National Parks Centennial, and important nuclear, cybersecurity, hydroelectric and innovation policies.

“The House may want to claim that this bill cannot move forward because we are running out of time. The reality is that the House is attempting to run us out of time, in order to prevent this bill from moving forward, even though it contains the priorities of dozens of its members. I urge my House colleagues to reconsider and to allow our conference report to come up for a vote before we adjourn,” Murkowski said.

But waiting until 2017 to move forward on the bill isn’t necessarily a bad option, said Christopher Guith, senior vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Energy Institute.

In fact, he said, failure to pass comprehensive energy legislation now could lead the way for “a much more robust bill that might actually lead to an energy policy that will finally unleash the full potential of the U.S. energy industry.”

An award-winning journalist, Deon has reported on energy, business and politics for almost 20 years. Email Deon at deon.daugherty@rigzone.com

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