ICYMI: What They’re Saying About the Energy Act of 2020

December 29, 2020

ICYMI: On Sunday evening, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which will fund the federal government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2021 and provide individuals, families, and businesses across the nation with much-needed relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

The year-end omnibus also included a broad modernization of our nation’s energy policies championed by Chairman Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member Joe Manchin, and the leadership of the House Energy & Commerce and House Science, Space, and Technology Committees. Entitled the “Energy Act of 2020,” this part of the bill – found in Division Z – is the culmination of years of effort in committee, in the Senate, and across congressional chambers. 

The Energy Act combines bipartisan provisions from the Senate’s S. 2657 (the American Energy Innovation Act) and the House’s H.R. 4447 (the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act). All told, it includes all or parts of 37 Senate bills and reflects the priorities of nearly 70 senators. It also helped pave the way for a bipartisan compromise to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases with extremely high warming potential.

The country’s focus is on COVID relief right now and for the foreseeable future. We agree that has to be the case, but wanted to provide a quick sampling of what members, stakeholders, and the media have said in the past week about the Energy Act – the first major modernization of our nation’s energy policies in 13 years. 

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Members of Congress

The Energy Act represents the first modernization of our nation’s energy policies in well over a decade. This bipartisan package will foster innovation across the board on a range of technologies that are critical to our energy and national security, our long-term economic competitiveness, and the protection of our environment. This has been a years-long effort that would not have been possible without great partners on both our committee and the committees of jurisdiction in the House of Representatives. I’m also grateful to Leader McConnell and Senator Schumer for recognizing the importance of our work and agreeing to include it in this year-end legislation.
-Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

This all-of-the-above energy package is the first comprehensive national energy policy update in 13 years. The Energy Act of 2020 provides a down payment on the technologies that will be critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector, industry, and buildings and addressing climate change. This focus on research, development, and demonstration will create high quality jobs and ensure the United States continues to lead the world in the clean energy future. The Energy Act also reauthorizes popular and effective programs like ARPA-E and the Weatherization Assistance Program and creates new programs to facilitate the transferal of technologies to the private sector. This legislation is the culmination of strong bipartisan work throughout the 116th Congress in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the result of collaboration with our House colleagues leading the Committees on Energy and Commerce and Science, Space, and Technology. This energy package is an important reminder that when we work in a bipartisan way, the American people come out on top.
-Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

I am pleased to see language included in the FY21 spending package that makes long-overdue reforms to U.S. energy and environment policy and authorizes investments in innovative energy technologies, one of the best ways to address the climate crisis while growing our economy. The bipartisan and bicameral Energy Act of 2020 is a down payment on fighting climate change that will allow the Biden-Harris Administration to hit the ground running on day one to drive us toward a clean energy future. As I’ve made clear throughout this Congress, our response to climate change is not a choice between action versus jobs. In fact, addressing the climate crisis provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. to create a clean energy future while strengthening our position as a global economic leader – spurring new and advanced industries, supporting high-paying jobs, and preparing our next generation of clean energy researchers and other professionals.
-Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas-30, Chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

I’m very pleased we were able to pass this energy package. This bill incorporates much of the high-priority legislative work done by our Republican committee members this Congress. Importantly, it recognizes that the most effective way to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases, and maintain U.S. energy independence is through technological innovations, which we can support by investing in basic and early-stage research. It also acknowledges that we need a diverse portfolio of U.S. energy sources including advanced solar, wind, water, and geothermal power. It isn’t limited to renewable energy, however. This bill includes support for emerging technology that will make our existing power sources cleaner and more efficient, including carbon capture, energy storage, and advanced nuclear power. This is fiscally responsible legislation that invests in our energy future while keeping our energy sector competitive and prices low for consumers and businesses.
-Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.-3, Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

The energy provisions in this year’s omnibus make long-overdue reforms and authorize sweeping investments that will help transition the country to a clean, low-carbon future. This legislation includes programs to develop and deploy renewable energy, improve the efficiency of our homes and businesses, modernize the grid, reduce carbon pollution from industrial and traditional power sources, and more.
-Joint Statement from Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.-6, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.-1, Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee

This package is not perfect, but there are certainly several bipartisan wins that should be celebrated, including…promoting carbon capture technologies to reduce emissions, helping the U.S. beat China in the race to emerging technologies, and more.
-Joint Statement from Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.-2, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.-5, incoming Ranking Member for the 117th Congress 

Modernizing our nation’s energy grid will make America’s electricity supplies more secure, abundant, and affordable. Making our nation’s buildings smarter and more efficient will lower utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions from a sector that accounts for 40 percent of all U.S. energy use. All told, these energy provisions are the most progress we’ve made to our nation’s energy policies in a decade.
-Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., former Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee



This is the biggest bipartisan energy policy win of the 116th Congress, and the most significant energy legislation we’ve seen in over a decade. The resulting technological innovation will provide options for both American and global energy systems to go clean and address the global emissions reduction challenges. It will lead to smarter, more targeted investments by the Department of Energy focused on real-world outcomes.
-Rich Powell, ClearPath

Energy: This is the big one—the first comprehensive modernization of U.S. energy policy in well over a decade, and an upgrade that the NAM has long fought for. We can’t cover all of its many provisions here, but they include everything from energy storage to nuclear development to carbon capture to renewable energy. It’s a major victory for manufacturers and the NAM. 
National Association of Manufacturers

Agreement on this package is truly historic—setting up the biggest action Congress has ever taken to address climate change, and the first energy bill in 13 years. This package demonstrates the progress that is possible when businesses, environmental groups, labor and policymakers work together to find solutions on difficult issues.
-Marty Durbin, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Despite the many struggles that our nation has endured in 2020, the year is ending on a high note for the clean energy sector, which is good news for the economy. The Energy Act of 2020 symbolizes a monumental win for commonsense, all-of-the-above clean energy policies that will move America forward. This package puts American innovation and ingenuity first by investing in critical research and development that will support wind, solar, hydropower and other forms of renewable energy, encourage U.S. exploration of critical minerals, promote safe and reliable nuclear energy and advance carbon management and removal.
-Heather Reams, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions

API is pleased that the bipartisan USE IT Act and key provisions of the LEADING Act have passed the Senate as part of the omnibus package. We commend the bipartisan group of lawmakers who have moved this legislation…and who understand the important role of advancing innovation and technology in addressing the risks of climate change.
-Stephen Comstock, American Petroleum Institute

By including key elements of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act in this legislation, Congress has signaled its commitment to accelerating the deployment of next-generation nuclear reactor technologies. Funding for advanced reactor demonstrations, including small modular reactors and microreactors, will keep America competitive in this strategic sector.
-Maria Korsnick, Nuclear Energy Institute

"This bipartisan agreement is a major win for American energy consumers, providing more opportunities for them to receive reliable, zero-carbon, and pollution-free electricity in their local communities. We appreciate that Congress has recognized clean energy's significant contributions to our nation’s economy and role in providing jobs and investments during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."
-Heather Zichal, American Clean Power Association

One recent positive step to [address climate change] came from Congress, with an Alaskan leading the way: Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Congress passed the Energy Act of 2020 as part of a larger spending bill this month. It does several key things to help our economy, our health and our climate…As a longtime Alaskan and as a grandmother who worries about the future, I want all of us to work toward solutions that will put our country on the path to a safer, healthier environment. That’s why I am grateful for Sen. Murkowski’s efforts to address climate change and thank her and her Senate colleagues for taking an important step forward. Here’s hoping the example they’ve set will be a model for continuing progress.
-Fran Ulmer, The Nature Conservancy

Approval of this suite of bipartisan measures like federal building energy efficiency, weatherization assistance for lower-income households, and investments in R&D is very good news at the end of a very tough year. We can stop to appreciate the efforts of Congressional leaders, especially the outgoing chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, for their stick-to-it-iveness to get these provisions over the finish line...
-Daniel Bresette, Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)


Media Spotlight

The massive spending package just passed by Congress includes the most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, along with significant changes in energy policy. It was easy to miss, nestled among pandemic relief payments, the annual spending bill, new Smithsonian museums and protection from surprise medical billing. But pull out the energy provisions alone, and the bill is remarkable: It includes $35 billion in funding for basic research, extensions of tax credits for renewable energy companies, and a long-delayed mandate to reduce the use of a particularly damaging greenhouse gas.
-See the full piece from National Public Radio (NPR) 

In one of the biggest victories for U.S. climate action in a decade, Congress has moved to phase out a class of potent planet-warming chemicals and provide billions of dollars for renewable energy and efforts to suck carbon from the atmosphere as part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package. The legislation, which Congress approved moments before midnight [last] Monday, wraps together several bills with bipartisan backing and support from an unusual coalition of environmentalists and industry groups.
-See the full piece as featured in The Washington Post

During the early afternoon of Dec. 21, Congress unveiled its nearly 5,600-page bipartisan stimulus package and government funding bill that includes many energy provisions lawmakers have sought for months, if not years…The massive bill includes the Energy Act of 2020, legislation containing numerous energy bills that House and Senate negotiators sought to include in a spending package...Many of the provisions were included in major energy bills developed by the House and Senate in recent months. Their addition marks a significant milestone for outgoing Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has sought to pass many of the provisions during her time leading the committee. 
-See the full piece as featured in 
S&P Global Market Intelligence

The package includes nearly $35.2 billion in research and development spending authorizations over the next decade in a clean energy innovation bill. Led by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, the House Energy and Commerce, and the House Science, Space and Technology committees, the legislation marks a culmination of nearly two years of work and a capstone to Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's ENR Committee chairmanship. With directions for increased spending and the demonstration of a number of new technologies needed to help combat climate change — including energy storage, carbon capture, direct air capture and advanced nuclear, among others — the bill marks the first major overhaul to the nation’s energy policies in over a decade.      
-See the full piece as featured in E&E News

Congress is poised to pass what supporters consider to be the most expansive package of provisions ever implemented to deal with climate change. The measure, the Energy Act of 2020, was included in the 5,593-page pandemic relief and government spending bill expected to be passed this week. It’s the product of years of work and difficult negotiations from interest groups and members of both parties… Supporters, including many environmental, labor, and business groups, say the package is a remarkable feat in a divided Congress…It would boost zero-carbon technologies that are only in the early stages of development but considered important tools to address climate change. 
-See the full piece as featured in the Washington Examiner

After a frantic final week of negotiations, Congress passed a sprawling Covid-19 and government funding package, delivering the most significant energy legislation in more than a dozen years and authorizing approximately $35 billion toward new energy technologies…Democrats are calling the package a "down payment" on climate change action that will juice the incoming Biden administration's plans for aggressive efforts over the next four years, while Republicans see it as an investment in the next generation of energy technologies crucial to emissions reductions — but without government mandates. It's a major accomplishment for outgoing Senate Energy Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who spearheaded the push for an energy innovation package alongside ranking member Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) this Congress.
-Read as featured in Politico Morning Energy

While the energy provisions were nowhere close to the centerpiece of the bill, they had broad support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Murkowski was one of the people who helped to make sure that the bill included provisions from other House and Senate energy bills that otherwise would not have become law. The result is the Energy Act of 2020, passed as part of the larger bill, which authorizes spending on research and development for a wide variety of energy technologies.
-See the full piece from Inside Climate News