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Press Releases :: July 29, 2009

Committee Approves Energy Research Legislation

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology passed legislation to improve energy efficiency and advance energy technologies through research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) programs. The bills would improve vehicle technologies, improve wind energy research and development (R&D), establish a gas turbines efficiency program, and establish a social and behavioral sciences research program.

“The four bills we passed today target several important energy research needs,” stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “These bills will help to decrease our nation’s dependency on foreign oil and provide consumers with more energy options.”
 
 
H.R. 3246, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009, would authorize an RD&D program within the Department of Energy (DOE) to explore a wide range of advanced vehicle technologies, with an emphasis on medium- to heavy-duty vehicles. The goal of the program is to reduce or completely eliminate petroleum fuel use and their associated emissions in vehicles. This legislation was introduced on July 17 by Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI).
 
 
“Over the last decade, federal research priorities have shifted drastically between passenger and heavy duty vehicles, as well as diesel-hybrids, hydrogen-fueled, and battery-powered drive systems. We need long-term sustained funding on a broad range of areas from near-commercial technologies to exploratory research on systems with the potential to revolutionize transportation in the U.S.,” added Gordon. “This bill highlights these critical research needs, and further emphasizes needs in medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles.”

“This legislation will help ensure the vehicles of the future are built in the U.S., creating new jobs here at home. To sufficiently transition our transportation sector off of foreign oil, we must develop more fuel efficient passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. The Advanced Vehicle Technology Act will help America take a major step toward energy independence,” stated Peters. “I am proud to have worked with Chairman Gordon to introduce this bill, and am grateful to Mr. Hall, Mr. Inglis, Mrs. Biggert and the minority committee staff for working with me to improve this legislation.
 
 
The Committee approved amendments to H.R. 3246 from Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), an amendmentin the nature of a substitute, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).
 
“The objective of my amendment is to develop cost-effective advanced technologies for vehicles,” said Johnson. “Right now, it is cost-prohibitive to build new vehicles that are fuel-efficient. We need to ensure that technologies and processes developed as a result of this bill are attractive to industry.”
 
 
H.R. 3165, the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009, would establish a wind energy RD&D program aimed to reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind systems. This bill was introduced on July 9 by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Vice Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY).
 
 
“The Wind Energy Research and Development Act is about perfecting wind energy so it can play a more prominent role in the nation’s energy mix,” stated Tonko. “This bill will leverage our investment to bring those technological advances to market, which will help lessen our dependence on foreign oil imports and help increase our energy independence.”
 
 
“H.R. 3165 authorizes R&D on wind power. The specific areas of R&D were identified in recent reports by the Department of Energy and the American Wind Energy Association describing the areas of improvement needed if we are to expand wind powered electricity generation,” said Gordon. “This legislation would assist the Department of Energy with their goal of reaching 20 percent wind energy by 2030.”
 
 
The Committee approved amendments to H.R. 3165 from Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Ranking Member Adrian Smith (R-NE), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).
 
“My amendment requires the Secretary of Energy to coordinate grant program activities with both the Department of Energy’s Office of Minority Economic Impact and with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization,” added Johnson. “By coordinating with these offices, the Department of Energy can open opportunities to minority candidates for jobs, strengthening the agency and allowing it to better reflect the taxpayers who fund it.”
 
H.R. 3029, also introduced by Tonko on June 24, would establish a short-term RD&D program at DOE aimed at increasing efficiency of gas turbines to 65 percent, from the current average of less than 60 percent. A one-percentage point improvement in efficiency applied to existing utility scale gas turbines in the U.S. would result in of million tons of CO2 reductions and billions of dollars in fuel costs, annually. Specifically, this program would examine gas turbines used in combination with cycle power generation systems.
 
 
“This is the kind of investment and public-private partnership that is needed to push forward with cutting edge technologies that will allow us to create better outcomes with energy efficiency and conservation,” added Tonko. “In addition, this program will promote U.S. technology leadership, and put the country in a position to assume a greater share of the worldwide energy market and retain specialized domestic natural gas turbine manufacturing jobs.”
 
 
“Currently, 15 percent of our electric power is produced from natural gas. Over the next decade, this percentage is predicted to double,” stated Gordon. “The R&D authorized in H.R. 3029 is intended to improve the efficiency of the turbines used in these combined cycle power generation systems. It is vital that utilities build new plants to be as efficient as possible since the investment costs are high and plants operate for many decades once they are brought on line.”
 
 
The Committee approved amendments to H.R. 3029 from Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL).
 
 
“Clean energy technology is a growing field and we must do all we can to support such an important industry,” said Kosmas.  “Investing in and improving the efficiency of abundant domestic energy sources such as natural gas and harnessing the innovative capabilities of small businesses and universities is vital to developing new technologies that will create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and strengthen national security.”
 
 
Lastly, H.R. 3247 would establish a social and behavioral sciences research program at the DOE to identify and understand factors that influence both energy consumption and acceptance and adoption of new technologies. H.R. 3247 was introduced by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) on July 17.
 
 
“Technology development and investment are only part of the solution to our energy problem,” said Baird. “The decisions each of us make every day have a significant impact on energy production and consumption.  It is important that we understand why some technologies are more readily embraced than others.  And it is important that we know how to communicate effectively about the nature of our energy challenges and know how to empower individual citizens to participate in overcoming them.”
 
 
“People determine the success or failure of new technologies. It is important to understand why some technologies are more readily adopted than others. And it is important that we communicate to the public clearly about the challenges and opportunities of becoming a more energy efficient society. H.R. 3247 will help us to accomplish these important goals,” stated Gordon.
 
 
The Committee approved amendments to H.R. 3247 from Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Vice Chairwoman Donna Edwards (D-MD), Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC), Rep. W. Todd Akin (R-MO), and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
 
 
“To understand fully the factors that influence energy consumption, we must be certain that the information obtained is reflective of the diversity of our nation, and incorporates the range of factors that influence consumer choices,” said Edwards. “My amendment would ensure that research programs and the application of research results address the diversity of geographic, climatic, cultural, and socioeconomic factors that influence consumer choices in differentcommunities within the United States and its territories. My amendment will make this bill stronger, and I thank Congressman Baird and Chairman Gordon for their support.”
 
 
“My second amendment will ensure that minority serving academic institutions and the Department of Energy National Laboratory are eligible for these grants, as we need to do a better job of engaging these institutions and bringing them to the table for this critical body of research,” added Edwards. “The participation of these institutions is essential to accomplishing the goals of this bill, and I thank Chairman Gordon and Congressman Baird for their leadership on this issue.”
 
 
All four bills passed the Energy and Environment Subcommittee on July 21.
 
 
For more information, please visit the Committee’s website.
 
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