House Moves Forward on Energy Reform

May 25, 2016

pic-energy-powerThis week, the House Committee on Rules is laying the groundwork to reconcile the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) with the House’s energy reform legislation the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (H.R. 8). Both bills target the U.S. aging energy infrastructure and its vulnerabilities to both natural disasters and cyber threats.

H.R. 8, was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and was ultimately approved 249-174 in December 2015. There were nine Democratic supporters in the House and only three Republicans voted against the legislation, Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). H.R. 8 is a far-reaching energy reform measure that seeks to update the country’s energy infrastructure. Some of the most significant provisions in the legislation would streamline the approval process for liquefied natural gas exports, increase security on and update the electric grid, ease the natural gas pipeline approval process and require the federal use of energy-efficient and energy-saving technology.

Meanwhile, S. 2012 was also introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The legislation will permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Provisions in S. 2012 will help modernize the electrical grid while increasing cybersecurity safeguards. Energy efficiency also features predominately in the legislation with several provisions to increase energy efficiency across government agencies and the country as a whole. Sen. Murkowski has indicated that she expects the conference reconciling the two bills to conclude before the summer recess.

H.R. 8 is significantly smaller in scope than S. 2012, so it is expected the House may be looking to include some measures which have already passed the House in the bill that is ultimately brought to the Conference Committee. It is expected that conferees tasked with reconciling the two bills will be appointed before both the House and Senate leave town on May 26 for the Memorial Day recess. Conference committees are generally given wide leeway in how they operate, although they are only supposed to address matters on which the House and Senate have disagreed.

Stable energy markets and electric grids are essential to small businesses. Disruptions in electric service have become increasing more prevalent across the country. They cost small business hours of lost production and work. Reforms such as the ones included in these two measures are necessary to ensure that disruptions in service do not increase and those small businesses are not disrupted in conducting