- The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill, thought just last week to be a sure thing in the Senate because of its bipartisan sponsorship and support, failed to break the election year D.C. gridlock and was voted down 55-36.
- It contained provisions to cut homeowners’ energy use, utility bills and carbon footprints by giving them better access to efficiency measures like smart metered water heaters and by supporting the manufacture of energy-efficient cooling and heating systems.
- The legislation was stopped when Republicans pushed for amendments having nothing to do with the original bill that would have approved the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and blocked the Obama administration’s climate change-fighting EPA regulations on coal plant emissions.
The legislation was sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R- Ohio), and Jeanne Shaheen, (D-New Hampshire) and had widespread support from both parties. A companion House bill with equally strong bipartisan backing was sponsored by Representatives David B. McKinley (R-West Virginia) and Peter Welch (D-Vermont). Congress last passed a major energy bill in 2005.
Partisan rancor over climate change, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the question of exporting natural gas amid the Ukraine turmoil ultimately split the Senate.
President Obama’s election-year driven delay of a decision on the proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline that would carry 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries offered his political opponents the opportunity to assert his inaction is blocking job creation and increased energy security. Four Senate Democrats in contentious re-election campaigns — Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — were forced to distance themselves from the President by supporting the pipeline in the debate.
Republicans argued the “energy-related” amendments concerning the pipeline and the EPA regulations were appropriate for an “energy” bill.