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Energy and Environmental Legislative Updates for Fall 2016

The House of Representatives and Senate returned September 6 from the long August recess that started in mid-July. The House is scheduled to be in session for four weeks and the Senate for five weeks before breaking again for the month of October to campaign. Energy legislation will be debated at the conference of the energy bills (S.2012 and H.R. 8) and potentially during an end of the year tax extenders debate. For further information on energy legislation updates, continue reading!

If energy legislation moves forward, then this will most likely occur during the Lame Duck session because it will be easier to obtain votes at that time and conferees will need to work through the 1600+ page reconciliation bill. If successful, the bill would become the first comprehensive energy law in nearly a decade.

House and Senate conferees will meet to discuss the many differences between House and Senate language. Issues fall into three categories:

  • The staff is doing well coming to agreements on the “easy stuff,” such as innovation issues and technical language;
  • However, big sticking points between the parties will need to be resolved at the member level;
  • There are also several outlier issues that need to be considered, including California water politics and forest fire issues.

There is a serious bipartisan effort underway to come to an agreement before the end of the year on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bills.

The administration will finalize updates to the greenhouse gas reporting program, phasing out heat-trapping refrigerants, haze regulation revisions, finalizing revisions to the ozone rule, revisions to the exceptional events rule, and other regulations. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will begin oral arguments over the Clean Power Plan on September 27, and if the court rules with the agency, then President Obama’s climate legacy will be preserved. Before the end of the year, federal agencies aim to roll out additional energy efficiency standards, updates to resources management plans, coal ash rules and additional actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For more on these developments and the latest from D.C., read last week’s update from ML Strategies.

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David Leiter