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Press Releases :: September 9, 2009

House Approves Bills to Focus R&D For Wind Energy and Heavy-Duty Hybrid Trucks

(Washington, DC)—Today, the House of Representatives approved two bills to advance energy research and development.

H.R. 3165, Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009, which was authored by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Vice Chair Paul Tonko (D-NY), passed by voice vote. 

The bill directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out a program of research and development to:  improve the energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity of wind turbines; optimize the design and adaptability of wind energy systems to the broadest practical range of atmospheric conditions; and reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind energy systems.

The bill authorizes $200 million for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014.  It would become the first law to set an authorization level for wind research and development since DOE was established in 1977.

 “The bill provides clear direction for the DOE to help the U.S. expand wind-powered electricity generation,” said Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “The specific areas of R&D in the bill were identified in recent thorough reports by the DOE and the American Wind Energy Association.”

“The United States has enough wind energy resources to meet all of our electricity needs several times over, but experience over the last several years has shown that many significant technical issues remain before wind can serve as a major provider of base-load electricity,” said Tonko.  “This bipartisan bill will establish a far more comprehensive research, development, and demonstration program for wind energy technologies at the DOE than currently exists. It is based on several recent assessments of the challenges that need to be overcome for wind power to reach its full potential in the U.S., and has been fully endorsed by the American Wind Energy Association.”

The House also approved H.R. 445, Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 2009, authored by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) by voice vote.  The bill enhances the DOE’s research program in heavy duty hybrid trucks.

 “The heavy truck sector accounts for approximately one-fourth of the nation's fuel use and the majority of transportation-based emissions,” said Gordon.  “Even small improvements in their efficiency can have a substantial impact.   Hybrid technologies hold the promise of greatly reducing the fuel consumed by the nation's truck fleet.  This bill represents another common sense approach to chipping away at our energy challenge.”

“We have repeatedly learned the hard way just how much the health of our economy can hinge on the commercial transportation sector,” said Tonko, who managed the bill on the House Floor.  “Costly fuel translates directly into higher prices for consumers since the large majority of products we consume or use, from food to building materials, are at some point transported by a medium-to-heavy duty truck.  We must take measures to ensure that this remains a vibrant economic sector.”

The bill is nearly identical to H.R. 6323, which passed Committee and the House in the 110th Congress. 

The House also approved two resolutions.

H. Con. Res. 167, Supporting the goals and ideals of National Aerospace Day, was authored by Research and Science Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI).

“The aerospace industry directly employs over 800 thousand people in the United States with high paying and high tech jobs,” said Tonko on the House Floor.  “In addition, the industry supports more than 2 million jobs in related fields.  The United States is the unquestioned leader in aerospace technology, and it is a leadership position made possible only through the dedication of the talented aerospace workforce.”

H. Res. 447, Recognizing the remarkable contributions of the American Council of Engineering Companies for its 100 years of service to the engineering industry and the Nation, which was authored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) passed by a vote of 420 to 0.

“As one of the few engineers in Congress, I know that The American Council of Engineering Companies is the oldest and largest business association representing America’s engineering industry,” said Tonko in his speech on the House Floor.  “It represents more than 5,000 engineering firms that employ 500,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors, scientists and others.  Its members engage in a wide range of engineering work, including designing the infrastructure, energy, and technological projects that contribute to our economy and quality of life.  I congratulate the American Council of Engineering Companies on its 100 years of service.”

For more information, including on the Committee’s work on wind energy, please see our website.

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