The Senate voted
84 to 3 to go to formal conference with the House on legislation
to take modest steps on modernizing the power grid, speeding the
permitting of exports of liquefied natural gas, and increasing
research and funding for energy efficiency and batteries.
Congress is slated to begin summer recess on Friday and the
conference is expected to work on the compromise energy
legislation after returning in September.
Senators who will work with House lawmakers on a deal in
conference include Democratic presidential candidate Senator
Bernie Sanders and Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranking
Republican in the chamber.
The Senate energy bill passed in April, while the House energy
bill passed last year.
Lawmakers in the House have removed items such as limits on
energy efficiency that the White House has said Obama would
Among items to be worked out between the two chambers will be
the speed of LNG export permitting process. The Senate version
of the bill limits federal reviews to 45 days while the House
version limits them to 30 days.
"My objective here is to deliver a law," Senator Lisa Murkowski,
the chairman of the Senate energy committee, said about the
conference process, shortly before the measure passed. Before
becoming a law, an agreement worked out in conference would have
to be passed by both chambers and signed by Obama.
Industry group the American Petroleum Institute praised the
step, saying the bill would boost U.S. energy infrastructure and
ensure "that American natural gas has a dominant place on the
Environmental group the League of Conservation Voters welcomed
progress on the debate on energy efficiency but warned that some
of the potential measures to be discussed in conference "will
not amount to the true overhaul our energy sector needs."
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives debated a bill to fund
the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency. The
White House on Monday said Obama would veto that measure if it
passes because it "underfunds" key Department of Interior
programs and slashes the EPA's operating budget.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by
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