Senators Tuesday night defeated 56-37 a floor amendment to the Clean Energy Act (HR 6) that would have given states veto power over liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals sited within their borders or within 15 miles of their borders.

Maryland senators who offered the amendment said it would simply order the Army Corps of Engineers to work with the states before issuing permits for tanker access to LNG sites. “This will not change the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” which approves LNG sites, said Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the bill’s sponsor.

The measure was opposed by both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Energy Committee. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) pointed out that it would allow the affected states to block the permitting for LNG ships to dock. “There’s no point in building a terminal if ships are not permitted to get near it,” Bingaman said. The Army Corps of Engineers would have to have approval of state governors in order to issue a permit.

Cardin and Sen. Barbara Milkulski (D-MD) were supporting the measure as part of a campaign to block the siting of an LNG terminal at the former Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point manufacturing facility in Baltimore.

Senate leaders were hoping to have their version of energy legislation completed before next week. A number of the provisions are controversial and heavily lobbied. While some energy measures might make it through before the closing bell, the odds don’t favor agreement by the House and Senate on comprehensive energy legislation.

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