Senate passes first major energy bill since 2007

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The U.S. Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) by a vote of 85-12.

More than a year in the making, this comprehensive energy bill will modernize the electric grid, invest in renewable energy and train a new generation of energy workers. The bill’s passage marks the first time since 2007 the Senate has passed a comprehensive energy bill.

“The investments we make today will benefit American taxpayers for generations to come,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) said. “This bipartisan bill is an important next step for saving consumers money on energy costs, providing more options to power U.S. homes and businesses, and preparing the next generation of workers for jobs in clean energy.”

The bill may now move to a joint conference committee with the House of Representatives.

Key provisions include:

·      Launching a smart buildings initiative, a public/private partnership to demonstrate and evaluate the costs and benefits of new energy-saving technologies;

·      A package of energy efficiency provisions that would provide $60 billion net savings to consumers, create more than 100,000 new jobs, and reduce emissions equivalent to the emissions from all U.S. cars, trucks and trains in a year;

·      Modernizing the grid to help integrate renewable technologies to make our grid more distributed and resilient and tripling investments in energy storage to help protect the grid during emergencies, during outages and to deploy more clean energy sources;

·      Supporting research and development of new clean energy technologies, in addition to geothermal and marine hydrokinetic energy;

·      Investing more in energy research through the successful energy research arm of the government – ARPA-E –$325 million for fiscal year 2016 and 2018 and $375 million for 2019 and 2020;

·      Better workforce training to help meet the needs of a changing energy sector and to help fill an upcoming shortage of 1.5 million energy workers in the next decade;

·      Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the nation’s most effective conservation programs, originally created by U.S. Senator Scoop Jackson of Washington;

·      Doubling the Energy Department’s recent investments in cybersecurity research and development, supply chain security and public-private partnerships for information-sharing and including cybersecurity representatives on the new 21st Century Energy Workforce Development Advisory Board; and

·      A demonstration project on recycling carbon fiber – an initiative underway in the Port of Port Angeles, Washington.

Over the course of the last year, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Cantwell and Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) worked together to compile bills from dozens of Senators (40 in total)—Democrats and Republicans, alike; and held hearings with experts on these proposals. The senators continued to improve the text by considering hundreds of amendments to the underlying bill text and processing more than 60 of those amendments through a series of Senate votes. 

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