WASHINGTON – Congress has come together to discuss finalizing legislation for an energy bill for the U.S.
As part of the first Energy Conference Committee meeting, Congress met to discuss the differences in the two bills that have been passed by the House and the Senate related to energy. Separate bills have been approved by the House and the Senate and Congress is meeting to work out the differences in the two bills. If the Congress can agree on an energy bill for the nation, this will be the first comprehensive plan to go forward since 2007.
Much skepticism was placed on Congress coming to an agreement.
“This was an organizational meeting that proved the skeptics wrong," Congressman David B. McKinley of the 1st District of West Virginia told The West Virginia Record. "Many doubted that we would indeed get to a conference, but we’ve been able to do so and we’re looking forward to working on a final bill.”
For West Virginia, the bill has great significance with its reliance on coal as a big part of its economy. While natural gas is working to surpass coal in this part of the country, the infrastructure isn’t there yet and there still being a large dependence on coal for jobs and the regional economy.
“Foremost, our goal is to protect and expand jobs in the fossil fuel industry in West Virginia,” said McKinley. “The amendments we’ve offered to the House version, which includes the establishment of a national ethane storage reserve, promotion carbon capture technology, strengthen gas turbine efficiency and increased training for displaced coal workers, will have a direct and positive impact on the people of our state.”
The House-passed bill includes more than 800 pages of information on what the energy bill will cover if signed off by the president. McKinley’s amendments to the bill include an Advanced Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage technology, improved gas turbine efficiency and the ability to authorize an ethane story study.
McKinley has also recommended that energy efficiency be addressed in federal buildings, data centers, manufacturing, and schools. He has asked for a grant permit extension for the Jennings Randolph Hydropower Project that is occurring in West Virginia in Mineral County as well as preventing the Army Corps of Engineers from opposing permits for fossil fuels without the proper review.
The Senate bill focuses on efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability and conservation reauthorization. It promises to bring affordable, more abundant and more functional energy throughout the U.S. as well as to strengthen and sustain energy throughout the nation.
McKinley is confident Congress will be able to come to an agreement on the energy bill, but is not so certain it will be signed off by the president.
When asked if the House and the Senate could reach an agreement, McKinley said: “Absolutely; the real question is whether or not the president will sign it. Our intention is to have a bipartisan energy policy achieved through cooperation and compromise. If the president threatens a veto, it will be difficult to get something done.”