U.S. Senate Considering Bipartisan Energy Bill

The week of January 25, 2016 the Senate started debating energy legislation that is chiefly focused on modernizing energy infrastructure and improving energy efficiency.  The last major energy law was passed in 2007.  Since that time, however, the nation’s energy infrastructure has not kept pace as the United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil and gas and the use of wind and solar is rapidly spreading as their cost has become cheaper.    

The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by the Republican chairwoman of the Energy Committee, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington. It has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as Minority Leader Harry Reid. 

The legislation, among other things, requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate approval of permits to build coastal terminals for shipping American natural gas abroad.  Specifically, the bill requires DOE to approve or reject an application to site, construct, and operate a liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility within 45 days of the completion of an environmental review.  The bill also requires major upgrades to the electrical grid system, with a focus on building new large-scale storage systems for electricity.  

The bill also includes provisions that address the threat of cyberattacks on the nation’s electrical grid.

As the Senate resumes consideration this week, Senators are expected to start voting on a number of amendments.  For example, Leader Reid is expected to offer an amendment aimed at improving water safety given the recent lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan. Additionally, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) plans to offer an amendment repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The prospect of the bill’s final passage at this time is known.  The White House announced its position on the legislation. 

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David Fialkov

David Fialkov is the Vice President of Government Relations, as well as the Legislative and Regulatory Counsel, at NATSO. In this capacity, Mr. Fialkov directs NATSO's legislative, regulatory, and legal strategy on a range of issues, including transportation, energy and fuels, labor, data security, and taxes. Mr. Fialkov also oversees NATSO's political engagement program, including individualized legal and political counsel to member companies. Prior to joining NATSO, Mr. Fialkov was the senior associate in the Government Affairs and Public Policy practice at the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. At Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov advised clients on legislative, regulatory, and political issues, as well as legal concerns. His primary clients included trade associations representing the motor fuel wholesale and retail industries, including the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. Mr. Fialkov's focus was not only on the motor fuels business, but also the litany of other issues that retailers confront, including labor matters, foodservice issues, healthcare and employment issues, tax matters and data security. Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Fialkov graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School. He received his B.S. Summa cum laude with highest honors from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Allison and daughter Lilah. More
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