US Senate Passes Bipartisan Energy Bill
The first broad energy bill passed in nearly a decade was passed by the Senate yesterday with an 85-12 vote margin. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, S. 2012, responds to major changes to the energy landscape spurred by the growth in renewable energy and domestic natural gas and oil production. The bill includes provisions to bolster the electric grid to accommodate renewable energy, promote energy storage technology, improve cybersecurity, and streamline and accelerate the permitting process for LNG exports. It also addresses building code development to promote energy efficiency and reauthorizes the half-billion-dollar Land and Water Conservation Fund that protects parks and other public lands.
The last ambitious energy bills were passed during the Bush administration and aimed to boost energy independence by cutting reliance on imported oil, raising fuel economy standards and imposing a mandate for ethanol in gasoline. The focus has shifted with the boon in renewable energy and distributed generation as well as the use of hydraulic fracking which has made the U.S. the world’s top oil and gas producer.
The bill must now be reconciled with the more fossil fuel friendly House version (H.R.8), which President Obama has threatened to veto. The White House previously expressed concerns about the Senate bill back in January regarding budgetary and implementation issues but did not threaten to veto.