Cantwell, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Energy & Natural Resources Bill

Legislation Will Transform Energy Economy and Support Conservation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Chairman of the committee Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), this week introduced S. 1460, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (ENRA). The bill is the successor to their broad, bipartisan legislation from the previous Congress and was placed directly on the Senate Calendar for expedited floor consideration. 

Focused on a wide range of energy and natural resources opportunities and challenges, ENRA features eleven titles reflecting common ground on efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, conservation, federal land management, National Park System management, sportsmen’s issues, water infrastructure, natural hazards, and Indian energy. 

The new bill builds on recent technological breakthroughs to bring substantial benefits to American families and businesses while protecting the environment. Its provisions will save energy, expand supply, prioritize innovation, modernize and secure the electric grid, boost energy trade, protect sportsmen’s access, strengthen mineral security, bolster the energy workforce, reauthorize certain conservation programs, facilitate better management of federal lands, and minimize risks from natural hazards. 

“Our energy infrastructure is under attack and we need the tools to fix it right now,” Cantwell said. “Our bipartisan legislation will not only help modernize our energy infrastructure, but secure it from extreme weather, climate change, and serious cyber threats. I am looking forward to continuing to refine this legislation through robust debate and then sending it to the President’s desk.” 

“It has now been a full decade since Congress has passed legislation to modernize and reform our nation’s energy and resource policies,” Murkowski said. “We came very close to achieving that goal last year, and have continued to work with our congressional colleagues and a wide range of stakeholders to write another strong bill. This stands not only as an opening for bipartisan accomplishment, but more importantly, as a significant opportunity to boost our economic growth, improve our infrastructure, enhance our security, and bolster our global competitiveness—results that we all support and should be working toward.”

The new bill builds on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which included priorities from 80 Senators and passed the Senate with 85 votes. That bill fell just short in a bicameral conference with the House of Representatives at the end of last year, but provided an excellent starting point for Murkowski and Cantwell’s bipartisan efforts in this Congress. 

As introduced, the Energy and Natural Resources Act features eleven titles: 

Efficiency – Energy efficiency provides significant benefits for consumers, the economy, and the environment. The provisions in this title include agreements on everything from energy savings performance contracts to the reauthorization of the weatherization assistance and state energy programs. The efficiency of our homes, buildings, and manufacturing facilities all stand to increase as a result of it.

Infrastructure – We depend on electric transmission lines, pipelines, and other infrastructure to transport energy from where it is produced to where it is used. This title will help modernize our electric grid, enhance cybersecurity safeguards, streamline pipeline permitting, facilitate LNG exports, and ensure a qualified, well-trained workforce.

Supply – To provide for a long-term, American-made energy supply that is increasingly abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure, this title focuses on the development of renewable resources, traditional energy, and non-fuel minerals alike. The responsible development of American resources – from hydropower to rare earth elements – will provide benefits to our nation for decades to come.

Accountability – Practical reforms are needed to advance innovation, protect electric reliability, and ensure the proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Among the provisions in this title are the reauthorization of certain energy-related components of the America COMPETES Act, reforms for the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, and the repeal of numerous provisions within the U.S. Code that are outdated or redundant.

Conservation – To advance environmental stewardship, the bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund in a way that balances land acquisition with other conservation programs important to states. It also permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund and creates a new National Park Maintenance and Revitalization Fund to address the maintenance backlog at some of our nation’s most treasured public places.

Federal Land Management – Features 22 bills affecting the major land management agencies, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The provisions in this title authorize numerous land conveyances for economic development to benefit tribes and local communities; designate wilderness in two states; allow for expedited access for search and rescue operations; and make technical corrections and clarifications to existing lands legislation.

National Park System Management – Packages 38 bills, including authorizations to conduct special resource studies of certain sites to assess the suitability and feasibility of adding them to the National Park System; re-designations for several NPS sites as historical parks; and boundary adjustments at several units. This title also designates new national heritage areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national memorials.

Sportsmen’s Access – Requires federal agencies to expand and enhance sportsmen’s opportunities on federal lands; makes “open unless closed” the standard for Forest Service and BLM lands; overturns the Army Corps’ rule regulating firearms on its recreational lands; and clarifies procedures for commercial filming on federal lands. Much of this title is drawn from Senator Murkowski’s bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act.

Water Infrastructure – Development of water infrastructure is essential to improving water supply certainty and drought preparedness. This title includes provisions that advance important western water projects and improve transparency to facilitate better management of existing Bureau of Reclamation assets.

Natural Hazards – Strengthens existing volcano monitoring systems to unify them into a single connected system to help protect citizens and travelers from volcanic activity. This title also establishes the National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program to map, assess, and minimize threats posed by landslides and facilitates elevation mapping efforts throughout the country.

Indian Energy – Promotes self-determination through increased access to information, resources, and technical assistance. This title also increases the authority of tribal entities to independently carry out programs and perform functions that are in their best interest.

The bill’s full text can be found on the committee’s website.

What this bill achieves for the state of Washington: 

Boosting Carbon Fiber Recycling

Composites are increasingly being used in the advanced manufacturing sector because they offer significant advantages over traditional materials, including improved fuel efficiency and performance. Current methods for manufacturing carbon fiber tend to be energy intensive and create waste. Recycling carbon fiber waste requires only one-tenth of the energy compared to manufacturing new carbon fiber and helps bring down the cost of high-grade materials. 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.

In Washington state alone, 96 composite companies across the state produce 2 million pounds of production waste carbon fiber each year that is sent to a landfill. This carbon fiber has a potential market value of $50 million if it can be reused and recycled.

Improving Cybersecurity
From 2012 to 2016, reported cyber incidents against US critical infrastructure more than doubled across energy, water, communications and other key infrastructure networks. In 2016 alone, there was a 28 percent increase in cyber incident responses in the energy sector. In 2013 and 2014, energy was the number 1 cyber target of all U.S. critical infrastructure. The legislation helps address persistent and evolving threats to the energy grid by launching an initiative at the Department of Energy to provide new tools for fighting cyber threats. This initiative would double the current investment in DOE energy security programs, to the tune of $900 million over 9 years.

Bolsters Science and Innovation at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Universities, and Businesses
This bill calls for 7% annual increases for five years for authorizations for the Office of Science and is the first broad authorization for the activities under the DOE Office of Science. The legislation also allows for universities, non-profits, and small businesses to compete more easily for Department of Energy (DOE) grants through a cost-share waiver pilot and encourages programs to commercialize energy technologies. 

Expansion of Energy Workforce Development Programs
Washington has more than 116,000 workers in the energy sector, including more than 54,000 workers in the traditional energy sector and almost 62,000 in energy efficiency. Washington leads the Pacific Northwest in terms of total utility employment and that number is expected to grow by 6.1 percent by 2020. However, 17 percent of energy workers in the Pacific Northwest are expected to retire within 5 years. The energy industry also continually faces a skills gap, with 77 percent of energy companies finding it difficult to hire qualified employees. 

To overcome these challenges, the legislation helps meet the needs of a changing energy sector 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 work with community colleges and apprentice programs to provide students with the skills needed to succeed in the energy industry. Filling these jobs will help grow Washington’s economy, as energy workers in the state earn almost $30,000 more annually than the average salary. 

Fuel Efficiency Innovation for Heavy-Duty Trucks

Transportation remains one of our largest users of energy and sources of emissions. Heavy-duty trucks alone account for about 20 percent of GHG emissions and oil use in the transportation sector. Currently, the average fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks is around 6 miles per gallon. Increasing the efficiency to 10 miles per gallon has the potential to save $25,000 a year in fuel costs and reduce emissions by 35 percent per heavy-duty truck.

The legislation directs the Department of Energy to carry out a research and development program for medium- and heavy-duty trucks to help create and commercialize the next generation of fuel efficient truck technology with a goal of improving freight efficiency by 50 percent.
Paccar, one of the largest medium and heavy-duty truck and engine manufacturers in the world, is based in Bellevue and employs 2,682 people in Washington state.

Permanent 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 outdoor recreation contributes more than $22.5 billion annually to Washington’s economy, supports 227,000 jobs across the state and $7.1 billion in wages and salaries, and generates $1.6 billion in annual state and local tax revenue 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. Two national heritage areas protected by the bill include the Mountains to Sound Greenway and Maritime Washington.
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, and permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund.

Smart Buildings 
This bill accelerates the transition to smart buildings by supporting research and  documenting the costs and benefits of emerging technologies in private-sector and federal government buildings. Specifically, it requires a survey of privately-owned smart buildings, directs smart building retrofits in certain federal buildings to quantify costs and benefits, and directs research and development toward reducing the barriers to the adoption of smart building technology.

On average, the building sector uses more than 40 percent of the nation’s energy. Smart sensors and building controls make commercial buildings more energy efficient, saving building owners and tenants as much as 30 percent on their energy bills, while creating jobs, enhancing our competitiveness, and reducing environmental impacts. Seattle is already a smart buildings leader and consistently ranks as one of the greenest cities in the U.S. This bill provides an opportunity for Seattle to export its smart technology solutions to the emerging domestic and global smart building market.