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Senate Conflicts Kill Energy Efficency Bill

Partisan Politics: Republican effort to attach Keystone XL amendment prevents bill from moving forward

by Jeff Johnson
May 15, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 20

A modest energy efficiency bill, supported by hundreds of companies, trade associations, and energy and environmental organizations, died of partisan politics on May 10 in the Senate.

The bill (S. 2262), introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and ­Robert J. Portman (R-Ohio), had provisions to encourage energy efficiency within the federal government and in manufacturing, residential, and commercial sectors.

Among supporters was the American Chemistry Council. The trade group said the bill’s energy efficiency provisions would spur investment while “creating advanced manufacturing jobs, including chemistry jobs responsible for many of the energy-saving materials and technologies that help our nation’s energy supplies go further while lowering costs for businesses and families.”

The bill easily cleared a Senate committee, but it died on the upper chamber’s floor when it got caught in a partisan dispute between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans wanted to add amendments to block federal regulation of coal-fired power plants, speed export of liquefied natural gas, and approve the Keystone XL Canada-U.S. oil pipeline. Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), blocked amendments and instead would only agree to allow floor votes on Keystone and other fossil-fuel-related provisions in bills that followed after S. 2262 was addressed.

When a vote to bring S. 2262 to the Senate floor was taken, it received 55 votes, a Senate majority but five votes short of what’s needed to close debate and advance legislation to the floor.

It is unlikely S. 2262 will be taken up this year in the Senate or in the more conservative House of Representatives. A comparable bill suffered a similar fate in the last Congress.


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