As of May 1, over 3,000 bills and resolutions have been introduced in the 113rd Congress, and nine measures have become law. This is about the same pace as in the 112th Congress. It is impossible to predict whether this Congress will eventually be more productive than the last.
There are 45 bills and joint/concurrent resolutions, including several energy bills, that are likely to be voted into law. These promising bills have had a significant vote in one chamber and are likely to get a vote in the other chamber according to the Govtrack.us website.
Due to real bi-partisan cooperation, energy legislation, covering topics from hydropower to helium, has a good chance of passing this year. Energy legislation that is unlikely to become law includes measures to strengthen or weaken hydraulic fracturing regulation or to increase access to federal lands for oil and natural gas exploration and production.
This week the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) will mark up five bills related to hydropower and energy efficiency. Four of the bills would streamline federal approval of hydropower facilities; the fifth would facilitate upgrading government and private buildings for improved energy efficiency.
Two pieces of similar legislation streamlining hydropower regulations have already passed the House with strong bipartisan support.
The Senate ENR committee held a hearing Tuesday on a measure reforming the way the federal government sells helium. The House recently passed similar helium legislation with only one dissenting vote. To understand why AAPG members should be concerned about this legislation see the helium article in the December 2012 AAPG Explorer.
The Senate ENR leaders realize that natural gas legislation will be contentious; therefore, they are starting our by hosting a series of information hearings on pipeline infrastructure, use of natural gas in the transportation sector, the potential benefits or unintended consequences caused by expansion of natural gas exports, and best practices and environmental concerns of shale gas extraction. Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski both hold relatively centrist energy positions.
The House Natural Resources Committee, which is more polarized, held a hearing on May 8 titled, “DOI Fracturing Rule: A Recipe for Government Waste, Duplication, and Delay.” The title points up the significant differences between the Republican and Democratic party positions in the House.