Shaheen-Portman: Everyone Loves It. So Why Isn’t It Moving in the US Senate?

Sept. 13, 2013
Shaheen-Portman, a major energy efficiency bill before the US Senate, has been hailed as one of the few significant pieces of legislation likely to pass this year. But now the bill has stalled and the next couple of days could make all the difference.

Supporters of ‘Shaheen-Portman’ saw another day go by without action on the  important energy efficiency bill, after the Senate recessed early Monday because of the Washington Navy Yard shootings.

The recess marked yet another delay for the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392), which has been hailed for months as one of the few major bills likely to pass this year because of its strong bipartisan support.

Energy efficiency insiders are carefully watching its progress. Sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).the bill would provide a significant boost to energy saving efforts. See’s article here for an analysis of the bill.

Last week, Shaheen-Portman no sooner made it onto the floor when it become ensnared in a completely unrelated issue. U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) objected to moving forward with amendments to the bill and instead raised unrelated issues involving Obama care.

“The problem with it passing has little to do with what the bill actually accomplishes, has little to do with energy, has little to do with energy efficiency, and has a lot to do with the dysfunction of the Senate,” said John Bryant, senior director of federal affairs at NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, late last week.

Shaheen-Portman supporters hope that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vitter will come to an agreement so that the bill can move forward.

Several efficiency-related amendments to the bill await consideration, as well as some unrelated to energy efficiency. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced an amendment that calls for President Barack Obama to approve TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Three years in the making, the bill “will have a swift and measureable benefit to our economy and our environment,” Shaheen said, when she introduced the bill on the Senate floor.

Energy efficiency has broad bipartisan support, Shaheen added, because its benefits “aren’t confined to a certain fuel source or a particular region of the country. It is clearly one of the policy areas where we really can come to a common agreement.”

The House version of the energy bill, H.R. 1616, was introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT).

The Alliance to Save Energy offers a summary of Shaheen-Portman here and a list of stakeholders supporting the bill here. The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), a small business association in Ohio, recently announced that it also supports the bill.

“Small businesses have many challenges, but energy efficiency programs make a  difference to their bottom line, and this legislation will increase the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors,” Steve Millard, COSE president and executive director.

Shaheen-Portman is the first piece of major energy legislation to make it to the Senate floor since 2007.

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Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.