Energy and Climate Change R&D Measures Clear Committee, Contribute to House Energy Package
(Washington, DC) Reducing the country’s dependence on traditional fuel sources and maximizing use of data on global climate change were the impetus behind four pieces of legislation cleared by the House Committee on Science & Technology today.
These bills are among twelve energy and environment-related measures the Committee has cleared already this Congress, seven of which are expected to be included as key provisions in the House Energy Independence Day legislative initiative.
The bills passed today by the full Committee were:
- H.R. 906, the Global Change Research and Data Management Act;
- H.R. 1933, the Department of Energy Carbon Capture and Storage Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 2007;
- H.R. 2773, the Biofuels Research and Development Enhancement Act; and
- H.R. 2774, the Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007.
“With concerns about global climate change, high gas and electricity prices, and our growing reliance on unstable energy-supplying nations, energy has been placed at the top of the Congressional ‘to-do’ list,” said Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “This Committee has responded with an aggressive energy agenda. In addition to the four bills we passed today, this Committee will contribute an even dozen pieces of legislation that make a vital contribution to the national strategy to put the U.S., and the world, on track to a more sustainable future.”
H.R. 906, introduced by Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC), places greater emphasis on the production and exchange of information needed to develop strategies to cope with current climate change and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to reduce further impacts.
The measure updates the current U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) to help local and state governments gain better access to valuable climate change information when making decisions. The Energy and Environment Subcommittee cleared the measure on June 6.
“The program has contributed significantly to our knowledge about climate change and our planet’s environment, but we need to expand this information and tailor it to the needs of decision makers confronted with management and mitigation challenges,” said Udall. “HR 906 will set us in the right direction by expanding and improving the USGCRP to provide more user-driven research and information.”
The Committee unanimously adopted five amendments to H.R. 906.
Udall was also the primary sponsor of H.R. 1933, which is based on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Report, The Future of Coal (2007). The measure follows recommendations made in the report by reauthorizing the Department of Energy’s (DOE) research and development (R&D) programs, and specifically authorizing large-scale demonstrations of both carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technologies and containment.
“We must begin to address the climate change challenge, but we must not cause irreparable harm to our economy and our coal industry in the process,” Udall said. “Creating safe, sound and economical capture and storage strategies is the key – and HR 1933 will help get us there.”
H.R. 2773, authored by Energy & Environment Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX) will better coordinate and compile information from federal biofuels research programs; focus research on infrastructure needs and efficiency of biorefineries; study the challenges of broader biofuels usage; and increase funding levels for DOE biofuels research.
“While I believe that fossil fuels still remain an important part of any viable, balanced energy strategy, we must enhance our efforts to develop a diverse set of alternative energy sources,” said Lampson. “H.R. 2773 represents another effort toward reducing our country’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and building a domestic industry for clean, renewable fuels.”
Nine amendments were adopted by voice vote to H.R. 2773. An additional amendment offered by Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) and was defeated by a vote of 12-20. An amendment by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) was defeated by a vote of 11-17.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) introduced H.R. 2774. The measure authorizes funds to establish a research and development program on storage technologies for concentrating solar power (CSP); conducts studies to determine necessary steps to integrate CSP plants into the national electric grid and to research how to reduce water usage in CSP plants; finally the bill establishes a program to ensure an adequate number of solar industry workers are trained and educated.
“A strong solar industry will stimulate business development, create new jobs, help protect our environment and promote energy independence,” Giffords said. “As I’ve said before, solar energy is a non-partisan issue. We can all benefit from harnessing the power of the sun.”
H.R. 1933, H.R. 2773 and H.R. 2774 each cleared the Energy and Environment Subcommittee on June 21.