WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators would gain final authority to locate liquefied natural gas import sites under an energy bill advanced yesterday by a Senate committee.
The bill includes an array of measures aimed at increasing energy production and conservation, including a requirement to double ethanol use in gasoline and measures to increase the reliability of the nation's electricity grid.
The provision that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission final say in where LNG terminals are located has prompted protests from coastal state governors who say it would force states and local communities to accept such facilities despite safety and security concerns.
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced the non-tax portion of the energy bill by a 21-1 vote, although a number of senators said that a string of contentious issues -- among them LNG siting -- would have to be thrashed out on the Senate floor.
The House passed its energy bill earlier this month including a similar LNG siting provision.
Separately, the Senate Finance Committee was continuing work on $11 billion worth of energy tax incentives that will be incorporated into the legislation.
Seeking a bill with bipartisan support, Senator Pete Domenici, a Republican of New Mexico and the energy panel's chairman, advanced the legislation without addressing some of the most controversial energy issues facing lawmakers.
Among them, proposed oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge and liability protection for makers of MTBE, a gasoline additive that contaminates drinking water -- provisions supported by the House.
Another issue that would allow states to override a federal moratorium on natural gas development off their coasts is being pushed by Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana.
But she canceled plans to press the issue in committee.