Senate Passes Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation with Energy Efficiency Amendments

Senate Passes Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation with Energy Efficiency Amendments

Two amendments that NEMA supported regarding energy efficiency were adopted.

The U.S. Senate last week passed by a vote of 62-36 (nine Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus in support) the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, following three weeks of debate where more than 40 amendments were considered. Two amendments that NEMA supported regarding energy efficiency were adopted.

Senators Portman (R-OH) and Shaheen (D-NH) offered an amendment (adopted by a 94-5 vote) that, if the bill is enacted into law, would:

  1. Establish “Tenant Star,” a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption;
     
  2. Exempt certain electric resistance water heaters used for utility demand response programs from pending Department of Energy regulation; and
     
  3. Require that federally leased buildings without Energy Star labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical.

Senators Collins (R-ME) and Warner (D-VA) offered an amendment that passed by voice vote. If the bill is enacted into law, this amendment would:

  1. Streamline available federal energy programs and financing to help improve efficiency and lower energy costs for our nation’s schools. This amendment will help school officials learn more easily what federal incentives are available to promote efficiency in schools and to know about other schools' efforts that save energy and lower energy costs; and
     
  2. Not authorize new programs or funding.

The Senate-passed bill now heads to the House of Representatives, which has already passed its own Keystone XL Pipeline bill. The House will assess if it will take a vote on the Senate version of the legislation or if it will conference its previously passed version with the Senate. Regardless of the House’s actions, the President has already signaled that he will veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. The Senate does not have the necessary 67 votes needed to override the veto at present.  

Senate leadership, including Senator Murkowski (R-AK), the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), have indicated their support for the committee to take up a comprehensive energy reform package this spring that will include energy efficiency items.  (NEMA)

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