WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, secured key provisions for New Mexico in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, a bipartisan energy package that cleared the committee by a vote of 18-4.
Senator Heinrich successfully included in the package a bill he introduced to authorize $50 million to cover the federal share of establishing off-campus microlabs that would serve as the "front-door" to national laboratories, including Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. The Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos and the Sandia Center for Collaboration and Commercialization are examples of outside-the-fence centers where industry collaborators can partner with the labs to commercialize technology for the private market.
During the committee hearing, Senator Heinrich emphasized that when small businesses and research universities partner with national labs, it creates an environment that boosts economic development and job creation.
Senator Heinrich also included provisions to expedite the approval process for exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), promote energy workforce development, reduce government energy usage, and protect the U.S. electric grid.
"This bipartisan package includes common-sense provisions to boost New Mexico's technology and renewable energy sectors," said Sen. Heinrich. "Supporting LNG exports, facilitating partnerships between our national labs and businesses, and protecting our nation's electric grid from cyber attacks are all integral to growing and sustaining our energy economy in the state. I'm also pleased this legislation includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is critical to protecting New Mexico's treasured public lands and outdoor heritage."
The following includes many of the provisions Senator Heinrich introduced and advocated for that were included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015:
- Microlab Technology Commercialization Act - Heinrich's bill authorizes $50 million to cover the federal share of establishing microlabs at the participating 17 national laboratories. The microlabs would give academia, local government, businesses owners, and communities direct access to equipment, facilities, and personnel of national laboratories. The bill directs the U.S. Secretary of Energy, in consultation with directors of national laboratories, to establish microlabs based on criteria to include whether employees of a national laboratory and persons from industry, academia, and government are available to be assigned to the microlab and cost-sharing or in-kind contributions from state and local governments and private industry.
- LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act - Heinrich's bill speeds up the approval process for exports of LNG to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States. The bill specifically requires the U.S. Secretary of Energy to make a decision on any LNG export application within 45 days after the environmental review document for the project is published. The legislation provides an applicant with expedited judicial review (in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit or the circuit in which the export project will be located) if the Secretary fails to act within 45 days or if the project is subject to a legal challenge.
- Energy Efficient Government Technology Act - Heinrich's bill requires the federal government to develop plans to reduce energy consumption at federal data centers. Federal data centers, managed by the Office of Management and Budget, currently consume more than six billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year -- the equivalent of powering more than 530,000 households. The total cost to supply federal data centers with this much energy is more than $600 million per year, meaning that this legislation has the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced energy costs.
- Protecting bulk-power system from cyber security threats - Heinrich's bill amends the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system from cyber security threats. The legislation allows the U.S. Secretary of Energy to take immediate action in dealing with cyber attacks in order to protect the U.S. electric grid.
- Workforce development - key provisions in Heinrich's bill, the Energy Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2015, were included in the bipartisan energy package. The provisions address future energy workforce needs and increase the participation of women and minorities throughout the energy sector. Additionally, these provisions seek to further engage displaced workers, minority serving institutions, and our national laboratories in workforce development.
- Permanent Reauthorization of LWCF - Heinrich supported a provision in the bipartisan energy package to permanently reauthorize LWCF. Senator Heinrich hasconsistently fought to protect LWCF. He is an original cosponsor of, S. 890, a bill to permanently authorize and fully fund the LWCF. The program has helped protect many of New Mexico's cherished landscapes and wildlife refuges, including the Valles Caldera National Preserve, Petroglyph National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Monument Santa Fe National Forest, and Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge.