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Energy Policy: 114th Congress Issues

Energy Policy: 114th Congress Issues

Full Title: Energy Policy: 114th Congress Issues
Author(s): Brent D. Yacobucci
Publisher(s): Congressional Research Service
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Energy policy in the United States has focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment. In pursuit of those goals, government programs have been developed to improve the efficiency with which energy is utilized, to promote the domestic production of conventional energy sources, and to develop new energy sources, particularly renewable sources.

Implementing these programs has been controversial because of varying importance given to different aspects of energy policy. For some, dependence on imports of foreign energy, particularly from the Persian Gulf, is the primary concern; for others, the continued use of fossil fuels, whatever their origin, is most important. The contribution of burning fossil fuels to global climate change is particularly controversial. Another dichotomy is between those who see government intervention as a positive force and those who view it as a necessary evil at best, to be restricted as much as possible.

In the 114th Congress, both the House and Senate are considering broad energy legislation, as well as specific topics of key interest. On April 20, 2016, the Senate passed S. 2012, the Energy Policy and Modernization Act. On December 3, 2015, the House passed H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015. On May 25, 2016, the House passed an amended version of S. 2012 which contains the text of H.R. 8, as well as the text of several other energy and natural resources-related bills. The conference committee met for the first time on September 8. Both bills would address a variety of energy topics, including energy efficiency in federal buildings, data centers, manufacturing, and schools; water conservation/efficiency; electric grid cybersecurity; and review of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The House bill also includes topics such as electric grid physical security and study of electricity markets; the Senate bill also includes provisions on helium and critical minerals, and electric grid energy storage, and loan programs.

Many energy topics were also addressed at the end of 1 st Session of the 114th Congress as part of the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114-113). Among other provisions, the act included two major energy provisions:

  • Repeal of the limitation on exports of U.S.-produced crude oil under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act; and
  • Extension of several energy tax incentives, including the production tax credits (PTC) for wind and solar electricity, electric vehicle tax credits, and incentives for advanced biofuel production.

Early in the first session of the 114th Congress, the House and Senate passed the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act (S. 1), which was vetoed by President Obama on February 24, 2015. The bill would have immediately approved this controversial pipeline project. On November 6, 2015, the Department of State determined that the pipeline would “not serve the national interest of the United States,” and rejected TransCanada’s permit application.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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