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December 7, 2015

U.S. House Passes Comprehensive Energy Bill, But Campaign To End Crude Oil Ban Continues

The U.S. House passed H.R. 8, a comprehensive energy bill referred to as the “Architecture of Abundance” bill last Thursday on a largely party line 249 to 174 vote. Nine Democrats voted for the measure while only three Republicans opposed it. According to Congressional Quarterly (subscription required), the bill would:

  • Revise national energy efficiency standards;
  • Require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to designate at least 10 corridors across federal lands in the Eastern U.S. where pipelines could be built;
  • Require the Department of Energy to expedite decisions on applications to export liquefied natural gas;
  • Create a permitting process for cross-border infrastructure projects;
  • Prohibit U.S. officials from imposing or enforcing restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports;
  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to satisfy regulatory planning and review requirements;
  • Place a filing deadline on judicial cases involving energy projects on federal lands;
  • Require studies on barriers to the export of natural energy resources and on the shipment of crude oil; and
  • Incentivize community solar projects.

As part of the their debate on the bill, House members considered an amendment that would end the U.S. ban on crude oil exports. Representatives adopted that measure Wednesday on a 255 to 168 vote. Twenty Democrats supported the amendment while just seven Republicans opposed it. It’s unclear when the U.S. Senate will consider its version of H.R. 8, but with its partners at the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, (EEIA) MSCI continues to look for must-pass legislation to which an end to the crude export ban can be attached and passed by the end of 2015. MSCI asks its members to call or email their member of Congress to urge them to support ending the crude export ban and to ask that they look for a legislative vehicle to carry it forward. Click here to learn more about why MSCI and EEIA support ending the ban. As Politico reported last week, there is increasing bipartisan support to end this outdated policy – so the time to act is now! 

In other energy-related news, the U.S. House also voted last week to disapprove and nullify the EPA’s final regulations governing emissions form new and existing power plants. House members voted 235 to 188 to disapprove of the rule for new power plants and 242 to 180 to disapprove of the rule for existing power plants. The Senate passed identical resolutions in mid-November, but to have the force of law, President Barack Obama must sign them and he has already indicated he intends to veto the measures. As a reminder, as part of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, MSCI opposes these rules and recently supported Congress’s efforts to overturn them.