This bill would broadly reform U.S. energy and natural resource policies as it relates to efficiency, infrastructure, energy supplies, accountability, and land conservation. It would update, create, repeal, and reauthorize numerous programs within the Dept. of Energy (DOE) and the Dept. of the Interior (DOI). It’s broken down into 11 sections that are summarized below:
Efficiency: The Secretary of Energy would continue to support and encourage state, local, and tribal governments in voluntarily adopting new, more energy efficient building codes. Numerous programs related to energy and water efficiency in government buildings would be reauthorized, and several DOE research programs related to improving vehicular fuel efficiency would be authorized — plus programs related to manufacturing those materials and technologies.
Grants would be made available to cover the cost of career skills training for students who receive a certification in energy efficient building techniques. The Energy Secretary would would be required to determine which certification systems for green buildings are the most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to green building certification.
The requirement that new federal buildings and federal buildings undergoing major renovations phase out fossil-fuel generated energy consumption by 2030 would be repealed. Federal agencies would be required to reduce their building energy intensity by 2.5 percent per year for fiscal years 2018 through 2027. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would work with each federal agency to develop a strategy for purchasing, using, and maintaining energy-saving information technologies.
Infrastructure: The Energy Secretary would establish a collaborative process to develop electricity grid architecture and a set of future scenarios for the grid to examine the impacts of different combinations of resources to determine whether the creation of additional standards are needed. The secretary would also be directed to conduct a demonstration program for electric grid energy storage to address challenges identified in a 2013 strategic plan.
The development of hybrid micro-grid systems for isolated communities would be promoted by this bill. The DOE could partner with states and local organizations to make state and regional electric distribution plans. A research program would be created to establish two or more National Lab partnerships with institutes of higher education to develop two or more exascale computing systems at DOE.
The Energy Secretary could increase the drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve up to a limit of $5.05 billion in revenue generated from such sales.
The Energy Secretary would be required to issue a final decision on applications to export natural gas to countries that don’t have free trade agreements with the U.S. within 45 days of required environmental reviews being completed. The DOE would also have to collect and publicly post available data on liquefied natural gas exports.
Supply: Improving the process of converting, using, and storing carbon dioxide produced from the use of fossil fuels would be made a stated goal of research programs at the DOE. A new coal technology program would replace its predecessor, which would be repealed. The new program would allow large-scale pilot and demonstration projects to provide reliable power, conversion efficiencies, carbon capture and storage, emission reduction, and water discharge management.
The Dept. of the Interior (DOI) would be required to conduct a resource assessment that identifies and quantifies critical mineral resources in the U.S. within four years. A series of performance improvements and reporting requirements would be outlined to reduce delays in federal permitting for mines that will produce critical minerals. The DOE would conduct research and development to promote the efficient production, use, and recycling of critical minerals.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would be designated the lead agency for addressing hydropower permitting backlogs, and existing incentives for hydropower production would be reauthorized for 10 years
Research into the identification, exploration, assessment, and development of methane hydrate as a commercially viable source of energy would be reauthorized. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would establish a three-year long pilot program aimed at streamlining drilling permits in areas where the federal government owns less than 25 percent of subsurface minerals or own surface area. This pilot program would be carried out in one state..
National goals for the production of geothermal energy and the identification of potential sites on federal lands capable of producing 50,000 megawatts of geothermal power. The Secretary of Energy would be authorized to carry out additional research related to geothermal energy technologies, which would cover the environmental impacts of these technologies. A categorical exclusion to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) could be used to permit geothermal test wells to be drilled as long as the site meets certain acreage and environmental impact requirements and the area is restored within three years.
Federal funding for marine hydrokinetic energy (or wave power) research would be reauthorized, and the definition of hydrokinetic energy would be broadened to mean more than simply electrical energy. Funding would be eligible to go toward demonstration projects, support in-water testing and arrays of technology devices, or to create information clearinghouses.
The DOE would be required to submit a report to Congress that assesses its ability to host privately-funded fusion and fission reactor prototypes at DOE-owned sites.
Accountability: The Secretary of the Interior would be required to establish a program allowing the BLM to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a state to consider the costs and benefits of creating consistent rules governing oil and gas production on federal lands within the state. The DOI would be authorized to enter into cost-sharing agreements with states, local governments, and Indian tribes to utilize a shared inventory system that would be publicly available and provide users with a catalog of infrastructure and geographical information. Any facilities that have significance to national security could be excluded from public disclosure.
DOE loan programs would require that borrowers pay at least 25 percent of the cost of the credit subsidy, and the Secretary of Energy would be directed to provide an estimate of that cost as soon as practicable.
The America COMPETES programs would be reauthorized, as would the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E).
Numerous reports that had been previously required by the DOE or DOI to be submitted to Congress would be repealed, as would outdated studies and grant programs.
Conservation: The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Historic Preservation Fund would be permanently reauthorized. The allocation of funds under the LWCF would be updated to include consideration fishing, hunting, and other recreational purposes along with recreation and conservation programs that are important to states when evaluating federal land acquisitions.
Within one year, the Interior Secretary would be required to establish a conservation incentives landowner education program to give landowners information about federal conservation programs.
Federal Land Management: The Interior Secretary would be authorized to establish a computerized inventory of buildings and real property, which include associated infrastructure collected from surveys, maps, charts, and inventories.
This section of the bill would also authorize several conveyances of federal land in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, South Dakota, and Arizona. Recipients would include Indian tribes, a school district, a ski resort, a hotel, a national forest, the Black Hills National Cemetery, and the state of Alaska.
Additionally, this section would allow the sale or exchange of small parcels of National Forest System lands that lost their National Forest Character valued at up to $500,000 rather than $150,000. It would also name a mountain in Montana, withdraw national forest land in Washington from being disposed of, create a fish species (steelhead) management area in Oregon, designate a wilderness area in New Mexico, expand the Cherokee National Forest, and maintain facilities for commercial recreation on the Salmon Wild River corridor in Idaho.
National Park System Management: This section would authorize resource studies of the James K. Polk presidential home and Fort Ontario in the state of New York that assess the suitability and feasibility of adding the sites to the National Park System.
It would also adjust the boundaries of numerous national parks (like the John Muir National Historic Site), and rename sites (like Sky Point) within national parks or the park itself. Further, this section would authorize:
A pipeline in Denali National Park to be placed at a location further from the highway that proponents believe to be safer.
The transfer and introduction of a small number of free-roaming wild horses in North Carolina to a new location to ensure genetic diversity and viability of the wild horse population.
Sportsmen’s Access: This section would declare a national policy requiring federal agencies and departments to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on federal lands, consistent with the mission of each department.
The Forest Service (USFS) and DOI would have authority to open or close federal lands to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting based on public safety. Except in an emergency, before temporarily or permanently closing an area the USFS and DOI would have to consult with state fish and wildlife agencies and give the public an opportunity to comment. Temporary closures would be limited to 180 days and couldn’t be renewed more than three times after the first temporary closure. The secretaries would have to publish a public list of all federal land temporarily or permanently closed under this section that includes acreage, and a survey of total areas closed in each state.
The Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture (which oversees the USFS) would create a priority list identifying federal lands within the jurisdiction or each state and regional office where the public is allowed to hunt, fish, or other recreational activities that don’t have an egress or access. The list would prioritize such lands based on whether resolving the issue of egress and access requires the acquisition of an easement, right-of-way, or fee title from a federal agency, state, local or tribal government, or a private landowner.
Federal land would be allowed to be leased for a shooting range except within certain specified areas. Individuals would be allowed to carry firearms at Army Corps of Engineers water development projects in compliance with state law.
The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be prohibited from regulating the use of fishing tackle based on lead content through September 30, 2028.
Water Infrastructure: This section would require the Bureau of Reclamation to provide, and update biennially, a report to Congress assessing major repair needs at Reclamation projects, an itemized list of each, cost estimates, and a categorical safety rating.
This section would also authorize, extend the deadline of, or modify several water projects located in Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and Kansas.
Natural Hazards: Within the U.S. Geological Survey a National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System would be established to monitor, warn, and protect from volcanic activity. The USGS would also establish a National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program.
Indian Energy: DOI would be required to consult with each applicable Indian tribe before approving a plan or well-spacing program that affects the energy resources of the tribe or its members. DOI would provide technical assistance to Indian tribes interested in developing plans for electrification; permitting of gas, oil, and renewable facilities; energy efficiency programs; electrical generation; plans for protecting natural, cultural, and other resources; and any other plans that would assist a tribe in developing or using energy resources.
Tribes would be able to use leases or business agreements to construct electric facilities, including those using renewable energy on tribal lands; allow for the pooling, unitization, or communization of the tribe’s energy resources doesn’t require DOI approval if the lease or agreement is for less than 30 years, or 10 years for an oil and gas lease so long as oil and gas is produced in paying quantities.