DECLARING NATIONAL MONUMENTS:
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The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The amendment would have required the expiration within three years of any presidential declaration of a national monument if the declaration is not subsequently authorized by federal law and state law where the monument is located. Lee said recent presidents have overridden the interests of those located near federal lands with monument declarations that deprive them of livelihoods earned on the lands, making the amendment necessary to give those residents “a voice in the land management decisions of their community.” An amendment opponent, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said it sought to give states an unprecedented veto authority over federal land management practices, hurting the president’s ability to use monument designations to protect threatened lands. The vote was 47 yeas to 48 nays. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, gave a yea vote, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, gave a nay vote.
ENERGY SUBSIDIES: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, to the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The amendment would have stipulated that government subsidies for fossil fuels be phased out in the same time frame as the phasing out of subsidies for renewable energy. Schatz said that “there should be a level playing field for fossil fuels and for clean energy.” An amendment opponent, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it would violate the constitutional rule that “all revenue-raising measures must originate within the House.” The vote was 45 yeas to 50 nays. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.
DEBATING ENERGY BILL:
The Senate has rejected a cloture motion to end debate on a substitute amendment sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The bill would advance numerous energy policy measures, including faster permitting of proposed liquefied natural gas export terminals and natural gas pipelines, subsidies for geothermal and hydro-power, and funding for energy efficiency programs, clean energy research and strengthening cyber-security for the nation’s energy infrastructure. Murkowski said the bill had strong bipartisan backing and would help increase low-cost domestic energy production and the infrastructure needed to efficiently distribute energy to manufacturers and consumers, without raising taxes or increasing the deficit. An opponent of ending debate, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, faulted the bill for not addressing the water supply crisis in Flint, Michigan, where city residents have been exposed to lead-contaminated water since Flint began getting its water from the Flint River in April 2014. The vote to end debate was 46 yeas to 50 nays. Both Collins and King were among the yeas.