The Hill: Murkowski, Manchin introduce major energy legislation

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday introduced a long-awaited energy package that's shaping up to be the best chance this year for passing legislation to expand the use of cleaner forms of energy.

The American Energy Innovation Act would touch nearly every aspect of the energy industry, incorporating more than 50 bills advanced by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took steps Thursday to bring the more than 550-page bill to the floor as early as next week.

“This bill is our best chance to modernize our nation’s energy policies in more than 12 years,” Murkowski said in a statement. “By working together to pass it into law, we can promote a range of emerging technologies that will help keep energy affordable even as it becomes cleaner and cleaner."

The package would promote research in up-and-coming renewables like geothermal and wave technology while shoring up supplies of minerals needed for the batteries to support long-term use of wind and solar.

It also includes efforts to bolster the capture of carbon pollution, including from the coal and natural gas sector.

The package is not considered climate legislation, and does not set any specific carbon reduction targets, though committee staff said it is expected to reduce emissions.

The legislation's research and development portions, as well as its energy efficiency measures, have some overlap with bill's still being drafted in the House that would commit the U.S. to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“This is an energy bill, and we think that the provisions in this bill are very important for climate but we are not claiming that it is anyway sufficient,” a committee aide told reporters. “We consider this a downpayment on climate, and it’s just focused on energy innovation.”

The legislation contains elements of bills sponsored or co-sponsored by 60 senators from across the political spectrum, as well as some House legislation that has already been sent to the Senate.

Senate aides expressed optimism that the House would be willing to work together on the legislation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office declined to comment on the legislation.

The bill includes a number of energy efficiency measures, extending a program to weatherize homes, offering up grants to retrofit buildings, and requiring the government to extend its own energy reduction targets while adding new reductions for water use.

But the bulk of the bill centers on boosting new and developing technologies, including ways to make cars and trucks more fuel efficient, as well as methods of making manufacturing processes more green.

By:  Rebecca Beitsch and Rachel Frazin
Source: The Hill