Curiously Uncertain Future for Senate Comprehensive Energy Bill

The Energy Policy Modernization Act (EPMA) of 2015 (S.2012) is the comprehensive bipartisan bill that is supported by most members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee – including the Committee’s top Republican and Democrat. Additionally, because the many parts of EMPA have been working their way through Congress for the past several years, the attitudes of Members of Congress towards the bill are generally well-known. Despite all of this, the bills’ fate remains unclear – for the moment.

According to Senate staff, given the anticipated congressional calendar and likely need to address other unforeseen events, the best time for EPMA to be debated and possibly passed is between January and early February. This is a unique window in which Members of Congress are in Washington, DC for an extended period of time with nothing definitely scheduled yet for the Senate floor. The schedule will solidify over the next two weeks.

If EPMA is debated on the Senate floor, it will likely occur under an open amendment process, which could either allow Members of Congress to voice their concerns and add favored provisions to it or grind consideration of the bill to a halt. While surprises do occur, if EPMA is derailed in January-February, it’s unlikely to be taken up again until 2017.