The staffs of House and Senate Republican negotiators were expected to work throughout Friday night to “hammer out the details” of the remaining sticking points to a broad energy bill in time for a final conference committee session possibly as early as Monday.

At press time Friday, reports were widespread on Capitol Hill that GOP negotiators’ staffs had resolved or were close to working out compromises on the hot-button electricity transmission and ethanol portions of the energy legislation, but still were said to be “far apart” on the tax package, a Senate committee aide told NGI. “It would appear that they’re getting a lot closer on these issues,” electricity and ethanol.

He said he expected the discussions on the energy bill to continue into late Friday. “We don’t expect to receive the text [of the bill] until sometime Saturday.” Staff began working around-the-clock last week after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) put pressure on the lead negotiators to complete their work on the energy bill.

While many energy items were able to be ironed out at the staff level, some issues — such as financial incentives for a proposed Alaska gas pipeline — have become so contentious that they “clearly will have to be worked out” by key House and Senate lawmakers on the conference committee, the aide noted. Another provision with an uncertain future calls for the federal government to inventory oil and natural gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

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