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Industry: 'This is the Year' that Congress Will Pass a Broad Energy Bill

"This is the year we will get comprehensive energy legislation," said a spokesman for the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) at the 19th annual GasMart conference Thursday.

"Lucy will not pull the football away when Charlie Brown comes to kick it" through the goalpost, Mark Stultz told energy executives who attended the conference in New Orleans.

"We do believe that we'll get there this year," agreed Gordon Slack of Dow Chemical, who represented the Consumers Alliance for Affordable Natural Gas. Prognosticators have said the same thing in past years and Congress failed to pass a bill, he acknowledged, but "it just feels different this year."

Thomas Moskitis, managing director of external affairs for the American Gas Association (AGA), said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the chances for passage of an omnibus energy bill this year, adding that it might take an energy crisis to get the job done.

Mark-up of a House energy bill is expected after Easter recess, and Senate mark-up of an energy measure is likely to follow the same timeline, according to Stultz. House-Senate conference would come in either late summer or early fall, he said.

Dow's Slack also wants a stand-alone natural gas bill this year. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) have expressed an interest into introducing a gas-only measure, he and Moskitis said. Lawmakers and industry supporters are waiting to see what happens to comprehensive energy legislation first before moving on a gas bill.

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