January 19, 2010

Energy and Climate Legislative Update

By Christy Gullion

The US Senate returns to Capitol Hill this week to tackle a full agenda starting with a measure to increase the federal debt limit (HJ Res 45).  Likely amendments to the resolution include one by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to halt the EPA rulemaking based on the so-called endangerment finding announced last month.  The endangerment finding opens an alternative route for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by using existing EPA regulatory authority under the Clean Air Act (PL 101-549) to set emissions limits.

EPA Endangerment Finding:  http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html

While the Senate this week debates the EPA rulemaking on climate change, there is little enthusiasm in the Senate for climate change legislation.  Most political insiders believe that climate legislation is a wild-card issue on the congressional calendar this year.

Congressional committees this week scheduled their first hearings and markups of the year.  On Thursday (January 21), Energy Secretary Steven Chu testifies at a hearing of the Senate energy and Natural Resources Committee on climate change research priorities.

Most of the legislation introduced during the first session of the 111th Congress will continue to be considered by Congress.  Key pieces of pending legislation on energy and climate change issues include:

S 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (Boxer-Kerry bill)

HR 2454, American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey bill)

S 1462, American Clean Energy Leadership Act (Bingaman bill)

The Office of Federal Relations will monitor these and other pieces of climate change legislation as the year progresses and post updates to this site as new information becomes available.

UPDATE:  Dorgan Predicts No Broad Climate Bill This Year

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) predicted today that he did not think the Senate can pass sweeping climate change legislation this year, citing the difficulties with completing health care reform.  Dorgan added the opinion was only his judgment and cited no specific evidence.  Instead, Dorgan suggested that he will push for passage this spring of energy legislation reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June, which contains a provision opening up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration and a renewable energy standard.  Dorgan has cited strong concern for months about the prospects of setting up a massive new market for carbon as called for in cap-and-trade legislation backed by the Obama administration and many Democratic leaders, and in turn he has been a leading skeptic about its chances.  Dorgan, who chairs the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, recently announced that he is not seeking re-election this fall.

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