While certain well-debated energy issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline can, as one Congressman observed during a subcommittee hearing this week, make it feel like "Groundhog Day," there are early signs of potential bipartisan collaboration on other important areas of energy policy. Just this week, on the issue of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, Energy Secretary nominee Ernest Moniz managed to satisfy Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) that he would reevaluate a DOE economic study on LNG exports while also recognizing some of the market issues raised by LNG export proponents. Mr. Moniz also acknowledged that gas serves as a "bridge fuel" to renewable sources of power and has led to a reduction in carbon emissions. Chairman Wyden observed that the breadth of support expressed by Committee members bodes well for Mr. Moniz's confirmation.
Hydropower is an area where strong bipartisan support is resulting in legislative progress. Two hydropower bills have already passed the House to expedite federal permitting (H.R. 267) and to authorize development on federal lands (H.R. 678), by votes of 422-0 and 416-7 respectively. In March, the Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduced companion legislation (S. 545) to expedite federal licensing and regulatory processes. Later this month, the Committee will hold a hearing on this and two other pending hydropower bills.
Protecting one's interests in the major, pitched energy battles will always be necessary, but there may also be opportunities to make strides in other aspects of energy policy.