By July 23, 2015 Read More →

Bi-partisan Energy Policy Modernization Act launched in Senate

Murkowski, Cantwell say Energy Policy Modernization Act updates policy, eco-activists criticize for lack of renewable energy focus

The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 shows Republicans and Democrats can find some common ground on energy issues, such as modernizing the electric grid, but disagree on many other critical areas.

Energy Policy Modernization Act

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Democrat Senator Maria Cantwell, Washington State, are leaders on the Senate energy committee. With elections looming next year, compromise was hard to come by.

Modernizing the energy grid is a motherhood issue supported by both parties. Provisions in the bill include enhancing cybersecurity safeguards, ensuring there is a qualified, well-trained workforce, longer-term utility energy service contracts, and the reauthorization of weatherization and state energy programs, according to a release from Murkowski and Cantwell.

And the Department of Energy will be required to review the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which holds nearly 700 million barrels of oil, and notify Congress before a test sale, which last occurred in 2014.

“Our energy renaissance has taken us from a position of energy scarcity to one of energy abundance, but current law rarely reflects that fact,” Murkowski said in a release. “By focusing on areas where agreement was possible, we have assembled a robust bill with priorities from many senators that will promote our economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness.”

Energy Policy Modernization Act

Democrat Senator Maria Cantwell.

“Climate, efficiency and cybersecurity must be addressed, and we need to have a plan in place for energy transmission, distribution and storage. With this energy bill, we are taking another step forward,” Ranking Member Cantwell said.

The most contentious part of the bill dealt with natural gas and greater exports of liquified natural gas.

“We are pleased with the inclusion of legislation creating greater certainty and transparency in the LNG exports application process,” said Frank J. Macchiarola, executive VP for government affairs, America’s Natural Gas Alliance.

“This legislation will better enable the United States to leverage our abundant natural gas resources, secure greater energy diplomacy, and strengthen energy security while creating domestic economic opportunities.

Macchiarola said that a strong energy exports policy and enhanced infrastructure are “essential to ensuring we fully realize the potential of the shale revolution.”

Environmental group Friends of the Earth criticized the bill for ignoring wind and solar, saying the Energy Policy Modernization Act won’t set America on the “right path” to clean, renewable energy.

“While making some progress in encouraging efficiency, it also continues this Congress’ attempts to promote climate-disrupting policies, such as expediting the approval of liquefied natural gas exports,” said Climate and Energy Campaigner Kate DeAngelis.

“This bill offers almost nothing positive and it is sure to become a vehicle for anti-environmental senators to provide more giveaways to the fossil fuel industry. We cannot afford to allow a Congress controlled by climate deniers dictate our long term energy future.”


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