Our infrastructure and climate change challenges will require a range of federal policy tools to reduce emissions and drive investment in resilient infrastructure. The good news is that we can address these problems simultaneously and do not need to wait to take action. By enabling the right policy frameworks and tools, the deployment of readily available, cost-effective technologies in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors can happen immediately to address critical issues related to infrastructure modernization and climate change. These policy tools - at both the federal and state government levels - can be structured to drive further and faster investment in clean energy resources.
The Business Council for Sustainable Energy is pleased to see that both the House and Senate are taking steps to tackle infrastructure modernization in a way that will begin to address climate change.
The leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is taking a comprehensive approach by introducing the first comprehensive piece of infrastructure legislation in the 116th Congress. The Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act or LIFT America Act (H.R. 2741) would authorize funding for the implementation of clean energy infrastructure, including provisions for grid modernization, efficiency upgrades, energy supply infrastructure, and research and development. Committee leaders have also recently outlined a process to develop bipartisan, market-based and economy-wide legislation to address climate change.
Under the leadership of Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently reported several pieces of legislation to promote clean energy, including:
- 1685, the Launching Energy Advancement and Development through Innovations for Natural Gas Act of 2019, introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), which would establish a carbon capture and storage R&D and demonstration program for natural gas fired generation at the Department of Energy.
- 859, the Reliable Investment in Vital Energy Reauthorization Act or the RIVER Act, introduced by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), which would reauthorize and extend the hydropower incentive program of EPAct 2005 for new hydropower development at existing infrastructure and hydro plant efficiency improvements.
- Several energy efficiency bills, including, 1857, The Federal Energy and Water Management Performance Act introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WVA); S.1706, The Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnership Act introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE); and S. 983 the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act, also introduced by Senator Coons (D-DE).
It is expected that the Senate will package a number of energy storage bills into a larger bill in the fall. Those pieces of legislation could include S. 1593 the Promoting Grid Storage Act, introduced by Senators Smith (D-MN) and Collins (R-ME), which would enable state & local governments, utilities, municipal power, and co-ops to apply for competitive grants from the Department of Energy to support their efforts to incorporate storage into long-term planning and grid operations; S. 1602 the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act introduced by Senators Collins (R-ME); and S. 2048 the Joint Long-Term Storage Act introduced by Senator King (D-ME) and McSally (R-AZ), which are complementary to S. 1593.
Bipartisan highway re-authorization legislation, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, introduced by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WVA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), was reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee before the August Recess. The bill contains a first-time ever title on climate change which recognizes that climate change can no longer be ignored in decisions about infrastructure. Among other things the legislation would:
- Establish a grant program to strategically deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors that will be accessible to all drivers of electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, and natural gas vehicles;
- Incorporate the USE IT Act, S.383, which would support carbon utilization and direct air capture research.
There is much to be done and the Council is eager to work with the House and Senate in a bipartisan fashion to enact policies that carry forward the momentum on clean energy. These bipartisan pieces of legislation begin to address the nation’s infrastructure and climate challenges.
Ruth McCormick is the Director of Federal and State Affairs for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.