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Bill Will Save Consumers Money, Eliminate Energy Waste and Invest in New Technologies that Improve Global Competitiveness.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), led the Senate’s passage of 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. Cantwell 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 US 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 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.
Key impacts for your region:
Boosting Carbon Fiber Recycling
Carbon fiber has a potential market value of $50 million if it can be reused and recycled. Currently, 30 percent of the carbon fiber used in manufacturing is recyclable. Producing recycled carbon fiber requires only one-tenth of the energy compared to manufacturing new carbon fiber. This legislation authorizes a study on the recycling of carbon fiber and creates a demonstration project in collaboration with the Department of Energy and industry.
“The Boeing Company is pleased that the Energy Policy Modernization Act includes a provision (Section 3701) that will have the Department of Energy explore additional opportunities to recycle carbon fiber, including the development of a demonstration program. These important activities will strengthen advanced manufacturing in the U.S. by expanding the utilization of composite materials in the economy,” said The Boeing Company.
Composite Recycling Technology Center (CRTC) CEO Bob Larsen expressed strong support for the passage of the Senate Energy Bill.
“With Senator Cantwell’s leadership, the U.S. Senate has passed a comprehensive package of visionary energy legislation that strengthens the nation’s move towards a sustainable energy future,” Mr. Larsen observed. “Of particular importance is Section 3701 for recycled carbon fiber, which will provide critical funding for research and demonstration in support of composite recycling. The CRTC is taking the first steps towards establishing a new industry; this bill is critical to accelerate the rate of growth of this new industry and reap the economic, energy and environmental benefits we see before us.”
Expansion of Energy Workforce Development Programs
With more than 18,000 utility jobs, Washington state leads the Pacific Northwest in terms of total utility employment and that number is expected to grow by 6.1% by 2020. However, 17 percent of utility workers in the Pacific Northwest are expected to retire within 5 years. To overcome these challenges, the legislation helps meet the needs of a changing energy sector by making investments in workforce training by establishing a 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board at the Department of Energy to develop the model energy training curriculum.
The legislation also creates a $20 million a year competitive workforce grant program to provide job training through a community college or registered apprenticeship program to provide students with industry-recognized credentials. The average salary for a utility worker in Washington state is 57% higher than the average salary across all industries in the state.
“With this innovative piece of legislation we are able to intersect blue collar, white collar and green collar mechanisms; by providing the training and resources needed to only further help launch IBEW into the future. With this collaborative effort, we have the opportunity to shape the energy industry, which is the 3rd largest industry in the United States, into one that benefits all working men and women for years and years to come,” said Louis Walter, Business Manager for IBEW Local Union No. 77.
Permeant Reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund
The legislation permanently renews the Land and Water Conservation Fund — the nation’s most successful conservation program. The Outdoor Industry Association has found that active outdoor recreation contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to Washington’s economy, supports 115,000 jobs across the state, generates $650 million in annual state tax revenue and produces $8.5 billion annually in retail sales and services across Washington.
Created by longtime U.S. Senator from Washington state Henry “Scoop” Jackson, the LWCF has helped protect places such as Olympic National Park and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The bill also establishes a National Park Service Critical Maintenance and Revitalization Conservation Fund to address high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service, with a prohibition on the use of funds for land acquisition and permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund.
“Today's vote for permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a historic step forward for communities across Washington state and across America to conserve our most treasured places. These landscapes are not only places for us to camp, hike, hunt, and fish. They are also major economic drivers for our state and are critical for healthy fire-resistant forests, clean water, and wildlife habitat and are an important part of our state’s identity,” said Hannah Clark Executive Director of the Washington Association of Land Trusts.
“Investments in our public lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund touch the lives of the 142 million Americans who recreate outside each year," said Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Executive Director, Amy Roberts. "The outdoor industry contributes more than $646 billion in consumer spending annually and depends on our public lands and waters for vital recreation infrastructure. OIA and our 1,300 members deeply appreciate Senators Murkowski and Cantwell for their commitment to make America’s premier recreation and conservation program permanent, so every future generation will continue to enjoy the benefits of time spent outside.”