Senate passes energy bill to bolster power grid, speed LNG exports
Apr 21, 2016 01:01 AM EDT
On Wednesday, the United States Senate has passed the first broad energy bill in 9 years. The legislation which is of the interest of both Republicans and Democrats, contains measures to modernize the power grid and hasten the process of allowing liquefied natural gas exports.
According to Daily Mail, the bill got 85-12 votes. It attempts to protect the power grid from extreme disastrous weathers such as hurricanes, ice storms and the latest cyber-attacks. It also aims to speed up innovations in storage of power from wind and solar energy. The House of Representatives is known to have passed a similar legislation last year.
Through the bill, named Energy Policy and Modernization Act, the US imports of liquefied natural gas would drastically increase, eventually helping the European consumers' alternative to rely mainly on Russia for gas.
According to Reuters, the bill encountered disagreements for months that led to it being held up. Senators then proceeded to drop measures from the bill to aid Flint, Michigan over a drinking water crisis wherein thousands were affected by the high lead exposure. Both the House and Senate will act on the differences of the bill. For example, the Senate one, requires the Department of Energy to issue a decision on LNG projects within 45 days of environment assessment while the House bill requires the DOE to make a decision in 30 days.
CNBC published that Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, said she hopes the chambers will move quickly "so that we can realize the opportunity to help our businesses and consumers plan for the energy future." The White House already gave the cue that President Barack Obama will sign the Senate bill into a law.
Energy Policy analyst Kevin Book said the chances of the Senate bill turning into a law this year is about 65%, since the White House is still seeing differences from the House bill. The Senate also passed amendments to the bill including a restriction to most sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when oil prices are low.