The Senate on Wednesday passed its first broad energy bill since 2007 -- covering a wide range of areas from modernizing the U.S.'s energy infrastructure to expediting gas exports.
The bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 was approved by an 85 -12 vote and now has to be merged with a similar bill passed last year by the House before going to President Barack Obama to be signed.
The Senate's bill includes expediting liquefied natural gas exports, modernizing electricity and pipeline infrastructure and their cybersecurity, promoting renewable energy, upgrading energy efficiency in buildings and preventing greenhouse gases.
The bill's sponsor, Lisa Murkowski, from the energy rich state of Alaska and who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, applauded its passage. It 'brings us much closer to our goal of modernizing our nation’s energy policies.
'I now look forward to working with members of the House to ensure that it continues to move forward -- through their chamber, through a conference with the House of Representatives, and into law before the end of this Congress,' she said.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a member of the same committee, said the bill is 'a modernization of America’s energy system, which is urgently needed', adding that legislation 'will push us towards cleaner, more efficient, more cost-effective and renewable energy sources'.
Since 2007, the U.S. energy landscape has undergone significant changes.
The country decreased its dependency on foreign oil and gas with a shale revolution to become the world's third biggest crude producer.
A 40-year-old ban on exporting domestically produced crude was lifted last December and liquefied natural gas exports began in February.
Meanwhile, Obama has increased focus on renewable energy use and investment.
By Ovunc Kutlu in New York