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June 21, 2007

Subcommittee Advances Energy Research Legislation

(Washington, DC) – Members of the Science & Technology Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee today advanced three pieces of legislation designed to enhance the country’s knowledge and use of biofuels, solar power, and carbon capture and sequestration.

“Today, this Committee is taking yet another step to increase federal investment in energy technologies that we know will lessen the environmental impact of our energy use, decrease our reliance on foreign fuels, and still maintain the quality of life we enjoy today,” said Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX).

H.R. 2773, the Biofuels Research and Development Enhancement Act, authored by Lampson, is designed to restructure and enhance biofuels research and development programs within the Department of Energy.

The measure would:

  • Provide for a research, development and demonstration program to address inherent problems with transporting and storing biofuels in existing infrastructure;
  • Create a program to research biorefinery energy efficiency;
  • Increase funding for biofuels related research;
  • Establish a grant program for states with low levels of biofuels production to work toward higher levels.

The measure also directs several studies on increasing consumption of mid-level ethanol-blended gasoline (10%-40% blend); optimization of Flex Fuel Vehicles while running on E-85; and engine durability at differing blend levels of biodiesel.

“While fossil fuels are an important part of our energy portfolio, we must balance it with increased investment in research and development into biofuels technologies, so that anyone looking to expand biofuels production has the latest research information readily available,” Lampson added.

The Subcommittee adopted two amendments to H.R. 2773. A manager’s amendment offered by Mr. Lampson made clarifying and technical changes to the bill. Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) offered an amendment authorizing research and development programs on the environmental impacts of biofuels production.

The Subcommittee also cleared H.R. 1933, the Department of Energy Carbon Capture and Storage Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), chair of the Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee.

Provisions of H.R. 1933 include directing the Secretary of Energy to continue researching new methods of carbon dioxide capture and storage. The measure also promotes regional partnerships to conduct large-scale storage of carbon dioxide in various geologic formations such as depleted oil and gas fields, or unmineable coal seams.

“Coal is an important part of our current energy portfolio and it will remain so for many years to come. We need this legislation to help us continue to support our domestic energy industry while also addressing the climate change challenge,” Udall said.

The Subcommittee adopted two amendments to H.R. 1933:

  • An amendment offered by Mr. Udall which authorizes, among other things, demonstrations of carbon dioxide capture technologies; an EPA research program associated with sequestration of greenhouse gases; and it authorizes the National Academy of Sciences to review the injection program.
  • An amendment authored by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) which authorizes the National Academy of Sciences to study workforce and education programs that may be needed to support carbon capture and sequestration.

H.R. 2774, the Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007, was also approved by the Subcommittee today. The measure, introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), vice-chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, is designed to address issues not covered in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by establishing research, development and training programs to facilitate the adoption of solar energy technologies.

The Subcommittee adopted one amendment, offered by Giffords, to H.R. 2774.

Specifically, the programs that would be established under the measure, as amended, include:

  • Research and development on thermal energy storage technologies for concentrating solar power;
  • A study to determine the necessary steps to integrate solar power plants into the national electric grid;
  • A study to examine how to reduce the amount of water consumed by concentrating solar power systems;
  • Training a sufficient number of workers to install, operate, and maintain solar energy equipment.

“Solar energy offers one of the best solutions to the greatest challenges facing our nation—global warming, dependence on foreign oil and concerns about American competitiveness,” said Giffords.

The full Committee is expected to take up these bills by the end of the month.



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