Energy Bills Move Out of House Panel

Slate of 11 measures marks first movement for Energy and Commerce

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and his panel moved a slate of popular energy measures out of committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a slate of 11 bills centered on energy infrastructure and efficiency initiatives.

The bills were all advanced on voice votes and mark the first energy-related legislation to move out of the panel in the 115th Congress, although much of the legislation was packaged into last Congress’ broad energy policy bill.

“When Congress can take steps that allow for more domestic energy output, lower costs for ratepayers, reduced emissions and more jobs, it should not hesitate to do so,” Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in his opening statement. “This is especially true if it can be done at little or no cost to taxpayers. That is what we hope to accomplish with today’s slate of bipartisan energy bills.”

Among the notable legislation included in the package, lawmakers advanced a bill (HR 338), originally authored by Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., meant to promote energy workforce training, directing the Department of Energy to prioritize training and education programs with a special emphasis on women, veteran and minority workers.

“This 21st Century workforce bill represents hope and opportunity for many of our citizens who feel they have been left out from the American dream,” Rush said.

The committee also advanced two bills meant to foster public-private partnerships to boost energy efficiency in public buildings. One bill (HR 627) would make it easier for schools to take advantage of federal programs to help them cut energy use, while the other (HR 723) “would facilitate the use of energy savings contracts to encourage private sector investment to upgrade the energy and water efficiency of federal facilities,” per a committee notice.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to save energy, lower our carbon footprint, put people to work and not put taxpayer money at risk,” HR 723 cosponsor Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said of his bill.

Another bill (HR 1109) would set “a minimum monetary threshold of $10 million for mergers and acquisitions of facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” per the committee.

The remaining seven bills (HR 446, HR 447, HR 951, HR 2122, HR 2274, HR 2292 and HR 2457) focused on extending the license and construction periods for various hydroelectric projects.

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