Panel to take second shot at sweeping bill this week

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The House Energy and Commerce Committee this week will try its hand once again at marking up a voluminous and contentious energy package after punting the job earlier this month.

Democrats and Republicans will likely air their differing views about how energy legislation should tackle the issues of climate change, market reform and the nation’s energy mix when opening statements are heard beginning tomorrow.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said amendments to the bill will be officially welcome when the measure is marked up on Wednesday. The committee is also slated to consider reconciliation recommendations to defund Planned Parenthood, invest in women’s health care, and protect taxpayer dollars from the health care law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The panel will also vote on a separate bill aimed at protecting children from exposure to liquid nicotine.

Whitfield said during an interview last week that the committee would follow regular order and that the markup could last a large chunk of the day.

The committee scrapped plans to mark up the energy bill earlier this month after a bipartisan rift over a host of issues surfaced.

Whitfield said after the markup was delayed that the two sides could not agree on “simple things,” citing Democrats’ opposition to language that would repeal a ban on the federal government using energy from fossil fuel until 2030.

Another point of contention, he said, is Republicans’ push to ease the government’s role in setting building code standards (Greenwire, Sept. 17).

While it’s unclear what amendments could be offered, members on both sides of the aisle have outlined their policy wish lists in the past — language that could show up in committee.

When the bill moved through subcommittee, for example, Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) pushed for language addressing liquefied natural gas exports in an earlier version of the bill that was scrapped.

A prior iteration of the measure would have, among other things, required the Energy Department to make a final decision on LNG export applications within 30 days of completion of National Environmental Policy Act review requirements (Greenwire, July 22).

Green also said he hopes to see a return of language that aims to coordinate cross-border energy infrastructure projects with Canada and Mexico, as well as stripped language that would have obviated the need for a presidential permit to construct liquid and natural gas pipelines as well as electric transmission facilities that cross U.S. borders.

Also at that time, a host of Democrats called for language in the final package to bolster energy efficiency and renewables, streamline hydropower licensing, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Schedule: The markup will begin with opening statements only on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 4 p.m. in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, and continue Wednesday, Sept. 30, in the same location at 10 a.m.