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  Latest News  
  May 23,  2005
Volume 83, Number 21
p. 6


  Senate Continues Energy Debate
More thorny issues likely to emerge as committee begins second week on bill

  The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee is expected to continue marking up national energy legislation this week. Likely to be hotly debated are provisions to ease restrictions on offshore natural gas and oil exploration, as well as other energy development off U.S. coasts, and sections of the bill that address clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change, and a host of other issues.

The Senate already has cleared several noncontroversial energy titles in the bill, and it has provided funding for energy R&D on hydrogen and coal--mostly for gasification technologies.

The committee voted down amendments to increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards and took up for debate electricity policy provisions, including provisions for electricity grid reliability. These issues will likely reemerge on the Senate floor when the energy bill is before the full body.



Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) aims to move the bill through committee by the end of May and to the Senate floor in June. The Bush Administration wants a bill made law by August.

The House cleared its energy bill in May, with provisions similar to the House-passed bill that died in the Senate last year. The House and Senate remain sharply divided over provisions providing liability protection to makers of methyl tert-butyl ether for groundwater contamination by their product. That division contributed to the defeat of the energy bill in the Senate last year.

In the end, the most important factors for determining the fate of the current energy bill will be provisions that emerge from a House-Senate conference committee. To be successful, conferees must craft legislation that is acceptable to the Republican-dominated House, as well as to 60 members of the Senate, the number needed to overcome a possible Senate filibuster.

  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005

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