Manchin, Committee Conclude Historic 116th Congress

December 22, 2020

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praised the historic, bipartisan achievements of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the 116th Congress.

“Over the last two years, we’ve held 70 hearings and reported 78 bills. We’ve also reported and confirmed all 21 nominees sent to us to hold positions in the administration. As a result of our bipartisan work in Committee, we’ve enacted a number of important pieces of legislation. At the beginning of the 116th Congress, in a sign of things yet to come, we passed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, a wide-reaching public lands package that included over 120 individual bills to improve the way our public lands are managed and conserved. Congress then came together again to overwhelmingly support the protection and preservation of America’s treasured public lands for generations to come with the passage of my Great American Outdoors Act. As this Congress came to a close, we worked around the clock to get energy and natural resources legislation across the finish line as part of the end of year spending bill. We secured inclusion of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Act, which creates a 72,186 acre National Park and Preserve in southern West Virginia. We also secured inclusion of a package of western water legislation to support water supply reliability for communities, water users and tribes across the western United States. And we negotiated inclusion of the first comprehensive update of our nation’s energy policies in 13 years by means of the Energy Act of 2020. This long-overdue legislation takes an all-of-the-above approach and makes a $35 billion downpayment on technologies that will be necessary to reduce emissions in the power sector, industry, and buildings. This focus on innovation, rather than elimination, lays the foundation for climate solutions to be deployed both here and around the world, while ensuring our continued energy independence. The accomplishments of the 116th Congress are a testament to the strong, bipartisan work that is still possible when we put politics aside to do what is best for our country, and I thank Chairman Lisa Murkowski for her partnership and leadership on the Committee. I look forward to continuing this tradition of bipartisanship next year on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, tackling the important issues that our country faces by working together, across the aisle, for the greater good,” said Ranking Member Manchin.

Below is a list of notable accomplishments of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the 116th Congress:

The Energy Act of 2020

Notable provisions include:

  • Modernizing the Department of Energy’s program for carbon capture, utilization, and storage, to advance technologies that will reduce emissions from power generation and industrial facilities.
  • Investment in all types of renewable energy resources – including geothermal, hydropower, marine, wind, and solar – and improved permitting for renewable projects on federal land.
  • The launch of a program for large-scale commercial carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere, which includes a direct air capture prize competition for facilities capturing at least 50,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.
  • New programs to tackle the frontiers of clean energy research and development, like solutions to advance nuclear, reduce industrial emissions, and demonstrate fusion energy on a commercial scale.
  • A robust effort to rebuild domestic supply chains through a multi-Department emphasis on locating, responsibly producing, increasing the efficient use of, recycling, and developing alternatives for critical minerals.
  • An expanded focus on energy storage, which is key to advancing generation from renewable resources, can increase grid resiliency, and can reduce the need for additional transmission.
  • Reauthorization of popular and successful programs like ARPA-E and Weatherization Assistance, and the formal authorization of the Federal Energy Management Program.
  • Technology transfer programs to aid private sector access to the Department of Energy and its National Laboratories and ensure that promising ideas can make it from the lab bench to commercial reality.
  • Significant investment in advanced nuclear technologies, with a heavy emphasis on an RD&D programs that will help the existing nuclear fleet modernize, provide a pathway for the commercialization of high-assay low enriched uranium, allow for the demonstration of advanced reactors, training the next generation of professionals, and develop technologies that will enable nuclear to assist in the reduction of emissions in the industrial and transportation sectors.
  • Advancing fusion energy toward demonstration through a $4.7 billion basic and applied research investment.

The Great American Outdoors Act

  • Provides $900 million per year in permanent funding for programs funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
  • Provides $9.5 billion in funding for deferred maintenance projects on Federal lands, such as National Parks and National Forests.
  • Serves as a much needed stimulus to combat the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Designation Act

This designation will:

  • Create a 65,165 acre National Preserve and a 7,021 acre National Park.
  • Open up 368 acres to hunting in Grandview for the first time ever.
  • Keep 301 acres of the Lower Gorge open to hunting following the requests of local hunters.
  • Authorize the National Park Service to acquire up to 3,711 acres of land for potential addition to the National Preserve.
  • Authorize the NPS to acquire up to 100 acres near the National Park and Preserve for parking, which is needed to avoid impacts to nearby landowners from increased visitation to the National Park.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act

  • Adds over 600 miles of rivers to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System
  • Adds over 2,600 miles of new trails to the National Trails System
  • Designates 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas
  • Increases the size of our National Parks by over 42,000 acres
  • Creates four new national monuments
  • Provides direction to all federal departments and agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands

The Western Water Package:

  • Expands eligibility for Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program to include conservation nongovernmental organizations and natural infrastructure projects, and reauthorizes the Cooperative Watershed Management Program.
  • Establishes an aquatic ecosystem restoration program at the Department of the Interior that will help fund projects to improve the health of fisheries, wildlife or aquatic habitat.
  • Expands the use of modern water management tools and technologies, including snowpack forecasting and desalination.
  • Creates a process to address the Bureau of Reclamation’s aging water infrastructure.