WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, voted for the Energy Policy Modernization Act, a bipartisan energy package that cleared the Senate today by a vote of 85 to 12. Senator Heinrich worked to secure key provisions in the bill to boost New Mexico's energy sector. The bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representative for consideration.
"This bill includes common-sense provisions to grow New Mexico's technology and energy sectors," said Sen. Heinrich. "By supporting LDRD, our national labs be able to continue using this powerful tool to attract and retain top researchers from around the world to work at the labs. And by simplifying the permitting process for renewable and natural energy development--especially in our state with high wind and solar potential--we can create quality jobs. I'm pleased this legislation also includes provisions to streamline exports of liquefied natural gas, facilitate partnerships between our national labs and businesses, protect our nation's electric grid from cyber attacks, and promote development of cost-effective energy storage technologies tailored to the electric grid. All of these measures I fought for play a role in growing and sustaining New Mexico's energy economy."
The Energy Policy Modernization Act includes the following provisions Senator Heinrich introduced and advocated for:
- Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) - Heinrich's amendment to eliminate a requirement that imposed redundant overhead charges on the funding set aside by each laboratory for LDRD. The Department of Energy's discretionary LDRD program advances the frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions, and helps recruit and retain staff for national laboratories.
- Promotes Development of Renewable Energy Projects on Public Lands - Heinrich's amendment to improve and expedite the environmental review of solar, wind, and geothermal projects on public lands--focusing development in locations with minimal wildlife, water, or recreational conflicts--and establishes a program at the Department of the Interior focused on making the permitting process more efficient. The amendment includes important planning and permitting provisions from the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, legislation Senator Heinrich introduced with Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and builds off the feedback gathered at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Senator Heinrich participated in in July 2014.
- 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.
- Worforce development - Heinrich's amendment addresses current and future energy workforce needs and increase the participation of women and minorities throughout the energy sector. It will align apprenticeships, training and work-study programs, college credentials, and university degrees with opportunities in energy- and manufacturing-related industries. Additionally, these provisions seek to further engage displaced workers, minority-serving institutions, veterans, and our national laboratories in workforce development. The language was modeled after Heinrich's bill, the Energy Workforce for the 21st Century Act.
- Energy Storage - Heinrich supported legislation that provides for a $500 million, 10-year applied Research & Development program in grid-scale storage-more than triple the current level of federal investment to address the ongoing challenges of the high costs of materials and production, reliability and safety, and the lack of industry acceptance of these technologies. Energy Storage will help bolster system resilience during emergencies and outages by storing energy produced by a variety of sources; to integrate diverse resources, such as variable generation and demand response; to provide reliable, supplemental services to the electric grid and to help displace new investment in fossil fuel generation.