Senate Passes Comprehensive Energy Bill, Opening the Door for Possible New Law this Year

As a reminder that virtually anything can occur in Washington, DC at any time, on April 20 the US Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85 to 12. Senators voting against the bill included: John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Cotton (R-AR), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), David Perdue (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).

The Energy Policy Modernization Act is a comprehensive bill that includes many provisions, such as:

  • Support for building energy codes
  • The SAVE Act
  • Allowing Federal disaster relief funds to be used for energy efficient structures and products (references Standard 90.1-2013)
  • Formally establishing the WaterSense program
  • Increases interagency coordination of activities related to the energy-water nexus
  • Support for data center energy efficiency
  • Reauthorization of the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program
  • Workforce development, including the establishment of building training and assessment centers

The next challenge is for the Senate bill to be combined with the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R.8), which passed the House last December, and contains a number of controversial provisions. The final combined bill would then be voted on once more by the House and Senate before going to President Barack Obama for his signature or veto.

The long path left have some nervous that not enough time remains this year to get everything done, which would force the entire process to start over, with the added complication of a new President and Members of Congress, and the possibility that both bills could be completely derailed.