Subcommittee Moves Legislation on Climate Change, Energy Research
(Washington, DC) The Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology today cleared three bills for consideration by the full Committee.
“The bills before the subcommittee today address overlooked opportunities in our collective efforts to respond to climate change, create good American jobs, diversify our energy supply, increase our security, and reduce the environmental impact of energy production,” said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX). “All three pieces of legislation are important to our environment and our economy.”
H.R. 906, the Global Change Research and Data Management Act, cleared the subcommittee by voice vote. Under the bill, local and state governments would have access to valuable information on global climate change. H.R. 906 marks the first climate change related bill to clear the Committee this session.
Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC) introduced the bill earlier this year to revise the current U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The program was established in 1990 to coordinate climate change research across federal agencies. However, scientific knowledge about the Earth’s climate has grown significantly since that time.
“The debate about whether climate change is occurring and about whether human activity has contributed to it is over. As our population, economy, and infrastructure have grown, we have put more pressure on the natural resources we all depend upon,” said Chairman Udall. “The fires, droughts, severe storms and other natural events that we experience every year exact a tremendous toll on our society. We must reduce the human and economic costs of these events by making our communities more resilient and less vulnerable to their impacts.”
The legislation seeks to update the current program to help the nation better prepare for and cope with various climate-related impacts by producing information that can be used by state and local governments and by businesses to develop and implement strategies for adapting to climate change and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. H.R. 906 was the topic of a subcommittee hearing on May 3, 2007.
Other bills passed by the subcommittee today include H.R. 2304, the Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007 and H.R. 2313, the Marine Renewable Energy Research and Development Act of 2007. This legislation was the topic of a Subcommittee hearing on May 17, 2007.
H.R. 2304, introduced by Committee Member Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), would direct the Secretary of Energy to support research, development and commercial application of advanced technologies to help locate undiscovered geothermal resources and increase energy production. Experts indicate the geothermal energy potential in the U.S. is vast, but largely untapped.
“Enhanced geothermal systems offer significant promise as a way to answer many of our nation’s pressing energy needs, while moving the country away from a dependence on foreign oil,” said Rep. McNerney. “Geothermal energy is clean, reliable, always available, and 100 percent domestic.”
This bill authorizes $80 million for each fiscal year 2008 through 2012, for the research and development of cutting edge geothermal energy technologies for the 21st century, which will reduce environmental impacts, increase national security, and lead to the creation of a new energy technology economy. It also addresses R&D for Enhanced Geothermal Systems, engineered reservoir systems that could enable access to the earth’s heat in locations where no naturally-occurring fluid source or reservoir is available.
H.R. 2313, authored by Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), directs the Department of Energy to support RDD&CA of technologies to produce electric power from renewable marine resources, such as waves, tidal flows or ocean currents.
“Congress is ‘catching the wave’ when it comes to exploring alternative energy sources by investing in the potential of marine renewable energy,” said Rep. Hooley. “We can surpass other countries’ success in harnessing the sea’s potential as America expands its investment in research and development of this clean energy source. American ingenuity can bring our marine energy potential from a vision to the marketplace.”
The bill is designed to pave the way for research in technologies that will effectively harness the energy contained in ocean movements or thermal gradients to use in generating electric power. The measure authorizes $50 million for each fiscal year 2008 through 2012, and also establishes research and demonstration centers where new technologies may be tested in connection with the power grid.
These three bills are likely to be marked-up by the full committee in the coming weeks.