Subcommittee Initiates Discussion on Draft Legislation to Improve Industrial Efficiency Technologies
(Washington, DC) – Members of the Science & Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment considered avenues for improving energy efficiency technologies and environmental performance of the country’s most energy-intensive manufacturing processes.
Today’s hearing focused on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program (ITP). Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX) also released draft legislation at the hearing designed to enhance that program.
The ITP currently works to reduce U.S. industry energy usage through coordinated research and development (R&D) and by sharing innovative energy efficiency technologies and practices. These high-risk, high-value cost-shared R&D projects also reduce energy intensity and process waste streams, while stimulating productivity and growth.
“These efforts not only improve the bottom-line of a wide variety of industries, they enhance the quality of life for American workers, families and the communities they serve,” said Lampson.
In the U.S., industry is responsible for more than a third of all energy consumed, mostly by certain heavy industries such as chemical, glass and metals production and by mining, petroleum refining and forest and paper products. But those industries tend to exhibit low levels of R&D spending and constant changing market conditions, energy prices and business concerns prevent the industry from pursuing energy efficient opportunities.
“In my home state of Texas especially, there is significant pressure to reduce the emissions and energy use associated with their processes, while keeping costs low enough to maintain the region’s attractiveness to industry,” Lampson said. “That’s a tall order when costs for natural gas, one of the primary industrial feedstocks, are among the highest in the country.”
“We pump more energy into our factories than we do into our vehicles,” said Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC). “Increasing U.S. industry efficiency will reduce emissions, drive down energy costs enabling domestic companies to compete internationally, and transfer energy cost savings to the consumer.”
Lampson’s draft legislation would charge ITP with researching ways to improve the quality and quantity of feedstocks recovered from waste streams; to develop alternative resources of use as industrial feedstocks; and developing alternative energy sources to supply heat and power for energy-intensive industries.
ITP is considered one of DOE’s most effective programs at transferring technologies to the marketplace, with over 170 technologies reaching the commercial market. An estimated 13,000 U.S. manufacturing plants have been improved through ITP and nearly 5 quadrillion units of energy, equal to approximately $23 billion, have been saved since the program’s inception.
Despite the ITP’s success, funding levels reflect a dramatic shift in priorities away from industrial efficiency R&D. For fiscal year 2007 (FY07), the budget request for ITP was $45.6million, $11.3 million below its FY06 appropriation. In FY 2000, $175 million were appropriated for the program.
Witnesses testified today on the need for and timeliness of the Lampson legislation and made recommendations for improving the draft.
Witnesses included Mr. Malcolm E. Verdict, Associate Director, Energy Systems Laboratory, Texas Engineering Experiment Station, Texas A&M University; Mr. Fred Moore, Global Director, Manufacturing and Technology, Dow Chemical Company; Mr. Lawrence Kavanaugh, Vice President, Manufacturing and Technology, American Iron and Steel Institute; and Mr. Paul Cicio, President, Industrial Energy Consumers of America.
For more information on this hearing, follow this link.