The House and Senate chambers, quiet for over a month, resumed regular business today. ML Strategies has produced a post–Labor Day outlook. Congress has several issues to address now that it is back in session, including the appropriations process, the debt ceiling, the extenders package, and the grand bargain. Energy and environment issues, such as the Keystone XL pipeline and the Renewable Fuel Standard, may crop up as riders to these topics. The nine major energy issues of note are Shaheen-Portman, the National Helium Reserve, the consideration of the proposed liquefied natural gas export terminals, the Keystone XL pipeline, the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Interior Department’s fracking rule, President Obama’s climate action strategy, Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and the President’s Power Africa initiative. For a broader overview of the congressional to-do list, please see our ML Strategies Post–Labor Day Preview.
The big energy-related push surrounds Shaheen-Portman. The Senate was set to consider S. 1392 tomorrow, but the debate surrounding Syria pushed the timeline back. Should the Senate approve the energy-efficiency legislation, the House will now consider its version, H.R. 1616, which was introduced by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT). Four additional energy and environment bills have been gaining buzz on the Hill. On the House side, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced that the chamber will address H.R. 2728, Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, in the next two months. The bill, introduced by Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) and passed by the House Natural Resources Committee in July, would prevent the Department of the Interior from enforcing fracking regulations in states that already have requirements. In addition, H.R. 1963, the Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act, is expected to move. This bill, introduced by Representative Steve Daines (R-MT), would allow irrigation districts and water user associations to install hydropower projects at Bureau of Reclamation facilities and collect revenue from the projects. On the Senate side, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is currently considering S. 1240 and S. 1419. S. 1240, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act, focuses on nuclear waste while S. 1419, the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013, streamlines marine and hydrokinetic pilot project permits.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to consider the nomination of Ron Binz to serve as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman on September 17.