President Obama signed the continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 117) September 28, extending federal agency funding through March 27, 2013. The measure was agreed to by House and Senate leadership prior to the August recess, and both chambers passed the measure two weeks ago before recessing until after the November elections.

When Congress does return for the lame duck session the week of November 12, a number of energy issues will be on the schedule. The Senate passed a scaled back energy efficiency package in the early morning hours of September 22, and finalizing work on that measure, as well as a critical materials package, will join tax extenders, the Farm Bill, and defense reauthorization on the energy negotiation agenda.

The Senate unanimously approved energy efficiency legislation (H.R. 4850) with two amendments on September 22 that make time-sensitive reforms, provide regulatory relief to manufacturers of certain appliances and equipment, and clarify the requirements within the industrial efficiency and federal agency energy efficiency programs. An amendment to the Enabling Energy Savings Innovations Act from Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) would continue the success of the 25-year old Department of Energy appliance efficiency program, such that it will reduce national electrical demand 12 percent by 2030. It would establish efficiency standards for certain specialized products, consolidate other standards, and provide the agency with flexibility to consider new technologies. An amendment from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), which includes a number of noncontroversial measures included in their broader efficiency bill (S. 1000), addresses industrial efficiency and federal agency energy efficiency by coordinating research and development among Department of Energy offices, requiring implementation plans for meeting agency efficiency goals, and expanding the definition of federal renewable energy consumption requirements to include thermal and electric renewable energy consumed. The House passed a version of Representative Robert Aderholt’s (R-AK) legislation in June, but will need to act on the amended bill before it could become law.