Senate Kicks ‘Fluffy Puppy’ Again: Shaheen-Portman Fails

May 13, 2014
The Shaheen-Portman energy efficienicy bill is so well liked, it has been called the ‘fluffy puppy’ of legislation. But it failed again in the U.S. Senate on Monday. Here’s what the Alliance to Save Energy has to say about the latest defeat and what’s to come next.

The U.S. Senate on Monday once again faltered on Shaheen-Portman, an energy efficiency bill that has broad bi-partisan support, but keeps getting tangled in unrelated issues that block its passage.

The bill is so universally supported and inoffensive, it has been described as the ‘fluffy puppy’ of legislation by New York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins. It would strengthen building codes and boost research and incentives for energy efficiency.

But despite three years of effort by its sponsors, the bill keeps running into trouble as Republicans try to add amendments, most recently to do with TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline and carbon dioxide emissions regulations. Below is the Alliance to Save Energy’s statement about the bill’s most recent failure and what may come next.

Kateri Callahan, ASE president


Washington, D.C., May 12, 2014 – Today, the men and women of the U.S. Senate once again put politics in front of American families and businesses, leaving on the table billions of dollars of savings on energy bills. Notwithstanding strong bi-partisan support and no expressed opposition to its contents, the Senate couldn’t muster the 60 votes necessary to simply end debate and pass the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 2262), better known as the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.

Shamefully, today marks not the first but the second time that the Senate has allowed partisanship to stand in the way of the Shaheen-Portman bill — a bill that a majority of Members on both sides of the aisle support, and which enjoys the widespread support of hundreds of businesses, NGOs and trade associations across the country.

Ironically, today also marks the three-year anniversary of the bill sponsors’ press conference to announce the introduction of S. 2262. Over these past three years, Senators Shaheen (D-NH) and Portman (R-OH) have worked tirelessly  to build constituent and bi-partisan support for this bill. Their efforts stand as a shining example of how the two political parties can and should come together to work for the interests of the country. Because of the work Shaheen and Portman have done to create attract a strong bi-partisan group of Senate supporters, the bill has been improved and now offers over $16 billion in energy savings and nearly 200,000 new jobs for the economy when fully implemented. But, today rather than seeing these herculean efforts rewarded with passage of the bill, the Senate put on display yet another example of its current state of dysfunction.

The Alliance will continue to soldier on, along with Senators Shaheen and Portman and the countless other supporters of S. 2262 because enactment of meaningful, national legislation that helps to achieve our goal of doubling national energy productivity by 2030 is simply too important for any of us quit now. So, our sights now are focused on the House of Representatives, which has already passed an energy efficiency bill, H.R 2126, with an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 375-36. And, the House appears to be gearing up to consider several more pieces of energy efficiency legislation this summer. Hopefully, the Senate can begin to function once again on behalf of the American people and we will see the Shaheen-Portman bill brought back to the Senate floor for a vote on final passage before the year closes.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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