Energy Efficiency Bill Need Not Address Pipeline, Subcommittee Chairman Says

By Geof Koss, CQ Roll Call

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee chairman discounted the notion that energy efficiency legislation would have to address the Keystone XL pipeline to pass the chamber.

“I don’t think there’s any way we would use that as a bargaining tool for an efficiency bill, because I don’t think we need to,” Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Edward Whitfield, R-Ky., said Thursday at a CQ Roll Call energy forum. “I think we can pass an efficiency bill, I think the Senate can pass one, and then hopefully we can just go to conference.”

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and other supporters of the pipeline have signaled they may offer a Keystone XL amendment to the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill (S 761) that is expected on the Senate floor next week.

Speaking earlier at the same event, Hoeven did not address whether a Keystone vote is in the cards for the Senate next week.

But he noted growing support in the chamber for approving the pipeline. Hoeven said he had more than 60 votes last year for a bill to approve the project legislatively — until President Barack Obama “called people directly” to urge them to change their votes.

He also noted that 62 senators voted earlier this year for a “sense of the Senate” resolution (S Con Res 8) to the chamber’s non-binding budget resolution that the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved. Hoeven said that after five years of studies, the State Department has yet to find any significant environmental impacts.

“I think unless they change the environmental-impact statements, it will be very hard to turn it down,” he said. “And ultimately if they turn it down, obviously we’d be in a position to approve it congressionally.”

Whitfield expressed doubts that Obama will approve the pipeline — and that Congress can muster the support necessary to override the action. “I think we have difficulty in the Senate,” he said. “I know we can pass one in the House.”

Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., called for leaving Keystone out of the efficiency debate unfolding on separate tracks in both the House and Senate. Efficiency is a rare area of bipartisan agreement in energy policy.

“I’m hoping that these bills can be brought together, get things done, and allow the two parties to taste success in the energy arena,” he said. “With Keystone, it’s been aired publicly, it’s near the end of its review process, I’d like to see it stand on its own.”

geofkoss@cqrollcall.com

Source: CQ News
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