Senate Passes Bipartisan Energy Legislation
On April 20, 2016, the Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S 2012) by an 85-12 margin. The bill had initially been considered on the Senate floor in January, but it stalled mainly due to a disagreement on whether to include funding to address the water situation in Flint, Michigan and concerns with the potential inclusion of provisions addressing offshore oil and gas development. All holds on the bill were pulled by Senators this week, which allowed the bill to reach final passage. S 2012 represents the first attempt to pass a broad energy bill since the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007.
S 2012 includes provisions that are intended to conserve energy, expand domestic energy supplies, facilitate investment for critical infrastructure, protect the electric grid, boost energy trade, improve the performance of federal agencies, and renew programs that have been effective in meeting many of goals of the bill. Key provisions of interest to AAPG members include the following:
Expedites the permitting process for LNG exports and for natural gas pipelines. Reauthorizes the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act.
Updates the National Materials and Minerals Policy Research and Development Act and requires an updated list of critical minerals every 3 years.
Reauthorizes the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program. NGGDPP, which was enacted through EPAct 2005, is a program administered by United State Geological Survey in coordination with state geological surveys and the Department of Interior. The mission of the program is to maintain geological and geophysical samples through the establishment of procedures and protocols for preserving materials and data.
Calls on DOE to do a review of the strategic petroleum reserve and to address its long term effectiveness and its role in national security policy.
Includes language that would increase funding for the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy through America COMPETES.
Calls on the Department of Interior to enter into memorandums of understanding with states in cases where oil and gas regulations are duplicative.
Requires the President to establish a taskforce that will review national energy policy every four years.
Calls on the Department of Energy and the Commodities Futures Trade Commission to take several steps to create more transparency on how crude oil and refined products are priced and ways to mitigate price manipulation.
Establishes an energy workforce advisory board to ensure that future needs for the industry are met.
Now that S 2012 has been approved by the Senate, it will be conferenced with the House bill (HR 8), which was passed back in December, 2015. Senator Murkowski (R-AK), the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has said that she would like to see the two bills reconciled in a formal conference. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton (R-MI) has said that he is eager to move forward with the process as soon as possible.