Cantwell: 'America Must Lead Transition to Clean Energy Economy'
Cantwell Named Chair of Energy Subcommittee
Cantwell: 'America Must Lead Transition to Clean Energy Economy'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmed U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) as Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy for the second consecutive Congress.
As Chair, Cantwell plans to focus on finding ways to work across the aisle to remove market barriers impeding the growth of promising clean energy and energy efficiency technologies; reducing our nation’s dangerous overdependence on fossil fuels; making our electricity grid smarter, more distributed, and more reliable; and providing consumers and businesses with more affordable energy choices. She will also continue to fight to protect the Pacific Northwest’s unique energy system based on clean and affordable hydropower.
“America must lead the transition to a clean energy economy. Clean energy is the largest market opportunity of the 21st century and one of the most promising avenues for creating jobs and fueling our economic recovery,” Senator Cantwell said. “Energy issues are at the heart of many of America’s most pressing economic, environmental, and national security challenges. As Chair of the Energy Subcommittee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to move forward on America’s energy future and to capture the great economic opportunity before us.”
Serving as Energy Subcommittee Chair during the 111th Congress, Cantwell played a key role in developing the bipartisan American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA) of 2009. This landmark comprehensive energy package, which was passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee but not debated by the full Senate, contains numerous provisions secured by Cantwell that would have helped accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy and create hundreds of thousands of new green jobs.
As Chair of the Energy Subcommittee during the 112th Congress, Cantwell plans to continue to pursue many priorities contained in ACELA, including her clean energy loan program, which would greatly reduce financing costs for new clean energy projects, minimizing any impact on consumer electricity rates at little or no risk to taxpayers. She also plans to focus on measures to increase distributed generation and reduce peak demand, including prioritizing distributed generation and smart grid investments instead of building new high voltage transmission lines if it is less costly for electricity ratepayers. Cantwell will also maintain her focus on protecting consumers from market manipulation, including giving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the authority it needs to police the electricity and natural gas markets, enforce just and reasonable rates, and prevent market manipulation.
Cantwell will continue to push improving our nation’s oil spill prevention safety net, applying the lessons learned from last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill, including her amendment to significantly improve the oversight and safety of offshore drilling rigs by requiring third-party certifications of drilling systems.
Since coming to the Senate, one of Cantwell’s top priorities has been making our nation's energy system cleaner, more efficient, and more diverse. She is co-author of the bipartisan Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act, a breakthrough bipartisan, alternative climate bill which uses a simple, market-based system to spur clean-energy job growth, protect Americans from energy price increases, and reduce global warming pollution. The CLEAR Act’s “cap-and-dividend” framework will harness American innovation and enterprise to create jobs and spur new technologies, guard all low and middle income households from energy rate increases through monthly rebates, get government out of the business of picking energy technology and special interest winners and losers, and avert the worst dangers of global warming. Senator Cantwell was also instrumental in making sure the 2009 stimulus bill invested about $90 billion for clean energy loan guarantees and tax incentives aimed at promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy use, making our nation’s electricity grid smarter, and training workers to build and maintain the clean energy future.
Cantwell led efforts in the 110th Congress to pass a package of landmark bipartisan clean energy tax policies that are helping to provide predictability and spark investment for U.S. clean energy industries. The package, passed in September 2008 by a vote of 92 to 3 in the Senate, included a number of new provisions including: an eight-year commercial solar and fuel cell investment tax credit; new credits for ocean energy projects; tax credits for homeowners who install solar, small wind, or geothermal heat pumps; a tax credit up to $7,500 for new car buyers who purchase a plug-in electric vehicle; and, a new credit for consumers who use alternative methods to heat their homes, such as wood pellet stoves. The bill also created an incentive to install new smart meters, which empower homeowners to take control of their energy use.
Cantwell was a key player in drafting and ensuring passage of the bipartisan 2007 Energy bill, which raised fuel efficiency standards for the first time in more than two decades, strengthened and expanded the growing market for ethanol and biodiesel, and created a ban on oil market manipulation. Specifically, some of Cantwell’s other contributions included creating a new tire efficiency labeling program, creating a national biodiesel fuel quality standard, and making the federal government buy energy efficient equipment that consumes less than one watt in standby mode.
Cantwell has led efforts to invest in technologies that upgrade the nation’s electricity grid and create jobs in a clean energy economy. She authored the groundbreaking Smart Grid title of the 2007 Energy bill, which established a smart grid research and development and demonstration program and required federal officials to establish a smart grid interoperability framework to ensure all these new technologies work seamlessly together. The provisions of this title were funded at $4.5 billion in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, of which tens of millions of dollars have gone to Washington state for smart-grid demonstrations, installations, and workforce training programs.
Cantwell also played a key role in the development of the 2005 Energy Bill, helping broker a bipartisan deal on hydropower relicensing and creating new incentives and research and development programs to accelerate the production and use of cellulosic ethanol.
The Energy Subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes oversight of: new technologies research and development; commercialization of new technologies including solar energy systems; federal energy conservation programs; energy information; global climate change; nuclear, coal, and synthetic fuels research and development; nuclear and non-nuclear energy commercialization projects; nuclear fuel cycle policy; Department of Energy National Laboratories; nuclear facilities citing and insurance program; liquefied natural gas projects; oil and natural gas regulation; refinery policy; coal conversion; utility policy; strategic petroleum reserves; regulation of Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and other oil and gas pipeline transportation systems within Alaska Arctic research and energy development; and oil, gas, and coal production and distribution.
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