The budget and deficit talks continue, with more delays announced Sunday as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) voiced his unwillingness to go forward with the latest iteration of a deal. Republicans are still outwardly opposing any tax increases and Democrats are trying to avoid cuts to their favorite programs. This impasse has actually allowed time for some energy and environmental legislation to move forward in the shadow of the debt and spending negotiations.
This week, the Senate will meet to consider a measure related to ongoing debt-limit negotiations, while the House will consider additional fiscal year 2012 funding measures. On Monday, the House will resume work on the FY2012 energy and water development appropriations bill (H.R. 2354). The version of the bill approved on June 15 by the House Appropriations Committee includes $30.6 billion in funding – a full $1 billion less than last year's funding level and $5.9 billion less than President Obama's FY2012 budget request. That committee is scheduled to meet again on July 12 to mark up legislation making FY2012 appropriations for the Department of the Interior, the environment, and related agencies, with significant cuts expected. In the Natural Resources Committee, there will be a mark up of three bills, one of which is a bill to streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects. The House is also scheduled to vote Monday on legislation that would repeal light bulb efficiency standards.
The Senate Energy Committee plans to hold a July 12 hearing on pending energy legislation, including S. 1108 to provide local communities with tools to make the permitting of solar projects more efficient. The committee also will hold hearings on the bills, S. 1160 and S.1142, to improve the administration of the Department of Energy and to promote the development of U.S. geothermal resources, respectively.