Whitehouse Notches Bipartisan Energy Wins in Energy-Water Minibus
Whitehouse carbon capture and utilization, energy efficiency, and advanced nuclear provisions clear Senate
Washington, DC – The Senate has passed bipartisan legislation to fund federal energy and water programs that includes legislation by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to pave the way for investment in promising new renewable energy and advanced nuclear energy technologies. The Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, or “minibus”, passed the Senate by a vote of 86-5. Whitehouse applauded its passage.
“From carbon capture and utilization, to energy efficiency, to energy storage, to advanced nuclear, there are lots of ways to speed our adoption of new, safer, cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. In the process, we will open new areas of investment in Rhode Island and nationwide,” said Whitehouse. “This bipartisan bill is a win for promising new energy technologies and programs that can help reduce carbon pollution and boost our economy, and I’m proud it includes several of my provisions.”
Included in the bill is Whitehouse’s request to provide millions in funding for Department of Energy programs to develop technologies to pull carbon pollution directly from the atmosphere and carbon utilization projects, including algae utilization and other marketable products in states like Rhode Island. The provision also includes Whitehouse language to require the Department of Energy to focus on capture of carbon pollution from industrial facilities—a major source of carbon and other air pollution. This provision’s passage follows the success of Whitehouse’s bipartisan measure to promote carbon capture and utilization that was signed into law in February.
Whitehouse joined Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) in offering an amendment to the bill to create a $15 million pilot program to recycle spent naval nuclear fuel for use in advanced nuclear reactors. The proposal was adopted by the full Senate on an 87-9 vote last week. The Department of Energy estimates that spent fuel disposal costs could reach as high as $100 billion; this amendment could help to alleviate those costs.
Another Whitehouse amendment included in the bill would call on the Department of Energy to study the potential gas and energy savings from natural gas demand response measures. Natural gas demand response programs could compensate customers for cutting their energy use during times of high prices or when infrastructure reliability is threatened, like during a heat wave or cold snap. This provision is based on a portion of the Energy Infrastructure Demand Response Act of 2018, which Whitehouse introduced in April.
This legislation’s passage follows a string of legislative successes for Whitehouse during the 115th Congress, including:
- $30 million for the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund to support work that helps Americans understand and adapt to forces like sea level rise, severe storms, and other coastal hazards.
- Whitehouse’s legislation to extend permanently vital foreclosure protection for servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
- $350 million to forgive student loan debt for teachers, first responders, social workers and others in public service, which was based on Whitehouse’s legislation to fix a glitch in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
- Bipartisan legislation to increase collaboration between private industry, universities, and national laboratories in developing and bringing to market advanced nuclear technologies.
- Bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), making important improvements to the way we treat young people in our criminal justice system.
- Bipartisan legislation to address the marine debris epidemic affecting America’s oceans, shorelines, and inland waterways, as well as other coasts across the globe.
- Bipartisan legislation to help behavioral health care providers – like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals – adopt electronic health records.
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