Major Energy Policy Developments
Prospects for Comprehensive Energy Reform Legislation. Although energy legislation has historically been crafted in a bipartisan manner that cuts along regional lines, prospects for a comprehensive energy bill reaching the White House are not particularly bright. We anticipate that the House will again move a comprehensive bill similar to the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act (H.R. 2), but a more
limited bill would have better prospects to get to the White House, such as one that addresses crude oil exports and LNG exports, energy infrastructure policy, energy efficiency. Even such a limited package will face resistance, not because of what it contains but because it will be viewed as too limited, given the desire of many stakeholders to move a more comprehensive bill. Moreover, even a limited proposal touching upon controversial issues as we recent saw with the the Keystone XL pipeline, may prove difficult to move through a closely divided Senate.
In this environment, expect the House and Senate to focus on narrowly tailored energy policies that stand a realistic chance at securing bipartisan, bicameral, and presidential support, such as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014 introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). But without a change in the Senate’s underlying environment in which every bill becomes a vehicle for anything remotely related to it, even something this noncontroversial could die again.
That being said,expect Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to lead the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the 114th Congress. Assuming she wins the December 6 runoff election, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) will become Ranking Member. With a loss, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will serve as Ranking Member. Senator Murkowski is likely to continue to press pro-energy development initiatives, including measures to authorize crude oil exports and to ensure revenue sharing by Alaska and other states that have opened (or open) off areas to oil and gas development.
With Senator John McCain likely to become the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) will likely become Chairman of the EPW Committee, since he has seniority over Senator David Vitter (R-LA) , the current Ranking Member, and has two years left to serve in that capacity under Republican Caucus precedent. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will likely serve as Ranking Member.
In the House, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) will continue to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee and Representative Whitfield (R-KY) will continue to chair the Energy and Power Subcommittee. They are likely to continue to pursue an “all of the above” energy agenda. With Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) retiring, two Members are vying to serve as Ranking Member: Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) will likely continue as Ranking Member of the Energy and Power Subcommittee.With Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) retiring, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) is likely to replace him as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. He will likely continue to pursue an “all of the above” approach to energy development on federal and tribal lands.Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who had been expected to continue as Ranking Member, will instead likely take the Ranking Member slot on the Natural Resources Committee instead.
Do not anticipate substantial changes at the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, or the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, the composition of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is pretty well settled. As a result
of an agreement reached between the White House and the Senate earlier this year, Commissioner Norman Bay will succeed current Chairman Cheryl LaFleur next spring. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has in place only three commissioners, with two vacancies, and a third about to be created when the current Chairman steps down. The President has nominated two individuals to individuals to fill those slots, but the Senate has not acted on the nominations yet. In the lame duck session, Chairman Landrieu is expected to hold a hearing on the nomination of Colette Honorable to serve as one of the Commissioners, and to favorably report her nomination to the full Senate.