Senate Democrats Offer Pathway to a Cleaner Energy Future and Economy

New Bill Introduced: The American Energy Innovation Act of 2015

September 22, 2015

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Washington, DC – Today a group of Senate Democrats released a national energy bill that lays out a Democratic vision for a cleaner energy future. The bill addresses the need for new jobs, updated infrastructure and technological innovation. Specifically, the bill includes programs essential to renewed economic growth in the energy sector that empower consumers, modernize infrastructure, cut carbon pollution and waste, invest in clean energy, and support research and development.

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy (DOE) released the first installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review, which projected an 18 percent rise in the cost of electricity, a 72 percent increase in clean energy generation and the need to fill an additional 1.5 million new jobs in the energy industry within the next 15 years.

This legislation seeks to get ahead of these changes with a multi-faceted approach that not only responds to today’s needs, but also rises to tomorrow’schallenges. This bill seeks to unleash American innovation in energy, to spur new technologies and opportunities, to enhance our nation’s security and to create jobs while reducing pollution.

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“By tackling energy efficiency in sectors ranging from trucks and buildings to the electric grid, we are targeting our best opportunities for job growth, consumer savings and carbon dioxide reductions,” Sen. Maria Cantwell said.

“Our country’s energy policy is out of sync with the industries that are redefining America’s energy future. Americans and their businesses are using clean energy at historic levels today. This legislation is a positive step toward modernizing our electric grid and creating opportunities for Americans to deploy their own clean energy and save money,” said Sen. Harry Reid, Democratic Leader. “By making these investments and cleaning up our polluting energy sources, we are creating jobs, investing in a future in which our children can breathe clean air, and averting the worsening extreme weather and disasters caused by climate change. I support this legislation and will fight to make clean energy a priority for the Senate.”

“While Republicans continue to keep their heads in the sand when it comes to climate change, Democrats have put together a plan to make energy cheaper for consumers and at the same time foster a clean energy future that cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer. “This bill pulls the best ideas from across the Democratic Caucus and is a refreshing reprieve from the tired Republican mantra of ‘drill baby, drill.’ That’s a slogan, not an energy policy. Republicans need to wake up to the fact that climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time and action must be taken to address it. The decisions we make in the next few years will have an incredible impact on our economy, our air quality, and nation’s energy security, and that’s why we should follow the Democratic path of proactive, bold action to create a clean energy future that safeguards our planet and works for the middle-class consumer.”

“The tax code plays an enormous role in energy policy, but the current system is a crazy quilt of laws that suffocates innovation,” said Sen. Ron Wyden. “This bill is built around the proposition that the law ought to reward clean energy with incentives that spark innovation in the private economy. Our proposal makes it possible to get more clean, renewable energy for less money and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to get it through the Senate.”

The Democratic energy bill includes provisions to:

•       Advance policies that give consumers access to their electricity data;

•       Create a federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which would save consumers $150 billion over the next 15 years, and support research and development on smart buildings;

•       Invest in energy storage, integrate clean energy onto the grid, improve the security of the grid and help manage electricity demand;

•       Implement recommendations from the Quadrennial Energy Review to improve the resilience of the U.S. electric grid, natural gas distribution system and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve;

•       Cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to all passenger vehicles and a third of U.S. homes and secure carbon reduction targets from other countries;

•       Triple funding for basic energy science and technology research, to maintain global leadership and to invest in the next generation of clean energy technologies that we can export internationally;

•       Double investments in cybersecurity research and develop and designate DOE as the sector-specific lead for energy;

•       Prepare a new generation of skilled workers for a 21st century energy workforce through job training and model energy workforce curriculum;

•       Permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund;

•       Offer technical assistance to small and medium manufacturers to implement smart manufacturing technologies and expands the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program to include trucks; and

•       Invest in clean energy technologies and repeal subsidies for fossil fuels.