The collapse of a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill on the floor has imperiled the Senate's vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, but it's also got members sweating that their chance to move any other energy measures has all but slipped away.
"We have things that need to be resolved and advanced in the energy sector," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "If we can't get an energy-efficiency bill through the floor, what does that say about our ability as a Senate to act?"
Republicans have said that the efficiency bill from Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio was their best — and possibly only — chance to debate energy issues in depth on the floor. They offered up a slew of amendments and tried to move five, including ones blocking a carbon tax, air pollution rules on ozone, and greenhouse-gas rules for power plants.
Those were politically-charged bills, to say nothing of the Keystone XL pipeline vote that was hitched to the bill as a stand-alone measure.
But Murkowski said she doubts that even some smaller measures from her committee could move given the "stunning" political backlash on the energy bill, which was aimed at increasing energy efficiency in commercial and residential properties and federally owned buildings. Among her priorities is a bipartisan nuclear-waste disposal bill she introduced with California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and policy proposals related to the nexus between energy and water, which she outlined in a white paper this week.