Murkowski: Comprehensive Energy Reform in June

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) lifted the curtain on her comprehensive energy effort on Thursday, detailing the bill’s broad contours while setting a schedule for the coming month.

Murkowksi, who chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, told reporters in the Capitol Thursday that she’s aiming to have a marked-up bill with four titles – efficiency, infrastructure, supply, and government accountability and reform – ready by the end of June.

The committee already held a hearing on energy efficiency, the first title, last week. Energy Committee spokesman Robert Dillon said the committee plans to hold hearings on the infrastructure, supply and accountability sections on May 14th, May 19th and June 4, respectively.

The remaining time before the end of June will be spent marking up bills, and picking the “best of the best,” said Murkowski, who released 17 bills of her own Thursday.

Murkowski’s additions include legislation to expedite electric transmission project permitting, reform the Department of Energy’s loan programs, promote hydropower, require federal regulations like the Clean Power Plan to assess impacts on grid reliability, and give Congress greater oversight of the Strategic petroleum reserve.

“That doesn’t mean all of them will be part of a broader bill, but it does mean that these are my ideas I’d like folks to have a heads up on,” she said.

Murkowski described the committee’s efforts as “very constructive” and “a real coalescing of good stuff” while repeatedly stressing that structuring the energy bill has been an “open process,” and that her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) “…has been great to work with.”

In the interest of getting something done, Murkowski said that she would prefer to leave more controversial items, like approving the Keystone pipeline, off the table.

“It’s not going to benefit me to try to move a measure that has no bipartisan support. We might be able to move it through committee, but if I can’t actually move it through the floor, that’s a lot of work for no gain.”

Murkowski told reporters that she plans to introduce a bill to lift the oil export ban on Tuesday. She said that while including an export bill in comprehensive energy reform was a possibility, she will also pursue it separately.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has also been considering an energy package of its own that would focus on infrastructure, boosting the energy workforce, and promoting energy efficiency.

That effort is being led Chairman. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). On whether Upton has been coordinating his effort with the Senate, Murkowski said: “We are not sharing coffee, but we are in good conversation.” She said the House committee needs to recognize that the bill will ultimately have to get through both bodies.

Comprehensive reform bills, like immigration, tend to sink under their own weight. But Murkowski isn’t thinking about that. “You don’t get it if you don’t try – we have to be moving forward as if we’re going to be successful with every step.”

Similarly, Rosemarie Calabro Tully, a spokesperson for Democrats on the committee, said in an interview Monday that she’s “cautiously optimistic,” the committee can pass a good energy bill.

Update: This article was updated to reflect the Senate Energy Committee’s announcement that the hearing on government accountability and reform is scheduled for June 4, not May 21.

Morning Consult