- More than a dozen groups have sent a letter to federal lawmakers warning that in a rush to produce an energy bill this session, Congress is still considering several proposals which could trigger pushback from environmentalists or a veto from the White House.
- Earlier this month lawmakers from the Senate and House launched a conference committee aimed reconciling competing pieces of energy legislation into one package, S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (EPMA).
- But yesterday in a letter to lawmakers heading up the conference committee, environmental advocates warned that they are considering "several provisions that would weaken current law," and vowed to "vigorously oppose" that appears to take steps in the wrong direction.
Lawmakers from the House and Senate already face a race against the clock in their efforts to combine the two chambers' energy proposals. A conference committee convened earlier this month, but it had been months since work was done to pass an energy bill. The Senate passed its measure in May, and the House completed its work last year.
So while hopes have already dimmed for a broad energy bill, 13 environmental advocate groups have sent a letter to the conference committee warning there are still dozens of proposals that are controversial, could draw a veto from President Obama or opposition from advocates.
"Our organizations will vigorously oppose a final bill if it would do damage to the environment," the groups wrote. "Unfortunately, EPMA also includes several provisions that would weaken current law, undermine climate science and are at odds with the overwhelming desire of the American public to protect the environment."
The House bill is even more concerning, they wrote, adding it is "littered with extreme ideological provisions that undermine many of our current protections."
Signing onto the letter are the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and 10 other organizations. The groups noted concerns with five proposals dealing with energy efficiency, three with infrastructure, seven supply issues and a host of others.
For example, the group opposes a provision to repeal Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act, directing new and modified federal buildings to eliminate fossil fuel generated energy by 2030. "A repeal of this provision alone would undermine our transition to a clean, low-carbon energy future," the groups wrote. "The federal government has tremendous potential to reduce pollution and leverage the significant benefits of energy efficiency."
The groups are also opposed to a provision which would speed review of applications to export liquefied natural gas. Activists say it does not give the federal government sufficient time to consider a range of factors, and would link the economy more closely to fossil fuels.
The White House has already threatened to veto the House measure, H.R. 8, soon because it “would undermine already successful initiatives," according to a statement.
There are five titles covered by Senate bill: Efficiency, Infrastructure, Supply, Accountability and Conservation Reauthorization. Though many of the topics are the same, H.R. 8 has seven titles, including sections on marine hydrokinetic energy and shared renewables.