As debates over fiscal year 2012 appropriations, the budget deficit, and jobs continue to heat up, energy issues retain an important place in the conversation. The Senate has a full workload in the coming days, while the House will remain in recess until October 24.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) revealed plans October 12 to begin combining unfinished spending bills into packages in order to complete debate of and pass fiscal year 2012 appropriations legislation in an increasingly small timeframe. The first package will include the bills for Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce-Justice-Science. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is negotiating with Senator Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the spending levels and, especially cognizant of the short timeframe during which the bills must be passed, is open to a minibus approach to passing legislation through the House as well. The first package will be the first of three similar legislative vehicles, all of which are an attempt to both avoid a federal government shutdown crisis and another year-end omnibus appropriations measure.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction continues their deliberations, and Democratic Ranking Members transmitted a series of letters to the Supercommittee October 13 outlining their recommendations on deficit reduction. Four letters pertained to energy issues. House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) called for $16 billion in new initiatives, specifically mentioning the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act and the Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Act. House Ways and Means Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-MI) called for an extension and expansion of the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit and the Building American Jobs Act and urged the Supercommittee to preserve the Section 199 domestic manufacturing deduction, accelerated depreciation, and the research and development credit. Democratic members of the House Natural Resources Committee suggested that the Supercommittee repeal tax incentives for oil and gas production and called for increased fees and royalty rates for oil and gas production on federal lands. The House Transportation and Infrastructure minority called for surface transportation reauthorization legislation, Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization legislation, and other infrastructure investment along the lines of the American Jobs Act of 2011, while also highlighting the federal government’s ability to save up to $410 million by increasing energy efficiency in federal buildings. 

Other energy related letters made their way to the committee last week as well. Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee urged the committee to endorse legislation allowing increased oil and gas production, both offshore and onshore, as a means of increasing federal tax revenue. The thirty-five House Democrats of the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition also sent a letter to the supercommittee requesting federal renewable energy and energy efficiency spending and incentives. The Democrats told the committee that supporting efficiency and renewable energy “is of paramount importance to our nation's competitiveness, job growth, energy and national security, and in addressing the threat of catastrophic climate change.” The letter did not prioritize existing tax credits, programs, and R&D efforts, but instead made more general statements advocating “robust investments and incentives supporting domestic innovation, commercialization, manufacturing, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and resources.”

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said last week that he plans to meet with all six Senate members of the Select Committee to discuss his proposal to extend investment tax credits for offshore wind farms. Senator Carper introduced a bipartisan proposal with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in July to extend the tax credits to the first 3,000 MW of offshore wind facilities to go into service.

Though the Senate defeated President Obama’s American Jobs Act (S. 1660) October 11, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said last week that he anticipates that many of its provisions will return as separate pieces of legislation in the coming months. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans introduced a jobs bill, the Jobs Through Growth Act, October 13 that would place a moratorium on new federal regulations and impose restrictions on Environmental Protection Agency rules, including a prohibition on using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.