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senate Bill S. 2012

$43 Billion in Reforms to U.S. Energy Policy

Argument in favor

As a bipartisan compromise, this bill contains provisions that will appeal to both sides of the aisle without alienating potential supporters. A sweeping overhaul of U.S. energy policy to improve the efficiency of the permitting process and ensure federal research programs continue is much needed.

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01/20/2016
"Right now, we have an energy policy that is rigged to boost the profits of big oil companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell at the expense of average Americans. CEO’s are raking in record profits while climate change ravages our planet and our people — all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into complacency in the face of climate change. Enough is enough. It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy, and finally puts people before the profits of polluters." [berniesanders.com]
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BarackObama's Opinion
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01/20/2016
"The energy challenges our country faces are severe and have gone unaddressed for far too long. Our addiction to foreign oil doesn't just undermine our national security and wreak havoc on our environment -- it cripples our economy and strains the budgets of working families all across America." [change.gov]
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···
01/20/2016
"We can’t address our climate challenge without ending our reliance on fossil fuels — full stop. I would take aggressive executive action and fight for legislation to slash emissions and put our nation on track to be powered by 100% renewable energy within 35 years." [martinomalley.com]
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Argument opposed

There is a lot wrong with this bill: it empowers the federal government to pick winners and losers in energy markets while catering to the needs of special interests. Worthwhile provisions within this legislation ought to be passed as standalone bills, but as a whole this bill fails to achieve the right mixture of reforms.

operaman's Opinion
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01/19/2016
Hate comprehensive all-inclusive big government bills. Break the comprehensive apart into smaller bills assuring less of that government crony capitalism.
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Ryan's Opinion
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01/21/2016
The private sector will sort itself out by what people buy or don't buy. Keep the fed out of private sector as much as possible. Regulations just cost the public more money and lose more jobs by increasing the the cost of doing business.
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Tom's Opinion
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01/31/2016
This has many great ideas! Student training and streamlining grants / loans for energy efficient technologies. But it's the repeal of the 2030 agenda to phase fossil fuels out & stream Lining oil drilling operations is not okay.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house Passed May 25th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 241 Yea / 178 Nay
  • The senate Passed April 20th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 85 Yea / 12 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
    IntroducedSeptember 9th, 2015

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What is Senate Bill S. 2012?

This bill would broadly reform U.S. energy policy as it relates to efficiency, infrastructure, energy supplies, accountability, and land conservation. It updates, creates, repeals, and reauthorizes numerous programs within the Dept. of Energy (DOE) and the Dept. of the Interior (DOI). 

Under the bill: 
  • Federal agencies would have more authority to enter certain long-term contracts to invest in energy conservation and related services;
  • Energy-related goals and requirements for federal agencies would be outlined;
  • The DOE’s authority to guarantee loans under Title 17 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 would be modified; 
  • A pilot program would be launched to streamline the review and approval process for permits to drill for oil and gas on federal lands.

Here's a section by section breakdown:

Efficiency

The Secretary of Energy would have to support and encourage state, local, and tribal governments to adopt new, more energy efficient building codes. Numerous programs related to energy and water efficiency in government buildings would be reauthorized.

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 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.

This bill would repeal a provision requiring newly constructed federal buildings (or those under renovations) to phase out fossil-fuel generated energy by 2030.

Several DOE research programs related to improving vehicular fuel efficiency would be authorized — plus programs related to manufacturing those materials and technologies. 


Infrastructure

The Secretary of Energy would have the final say on applications to export natural gas to countries that don’t have free trade agreements with the U.S. 

The DOE would also have to collect and publicly post available data on liquefied natural gas exports. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) would be required to collaborate Mexican and Canadian officials to improve the collection of cross-border energy data.

Electrical grid systems would be modeled to examine the impacts of different resource combinations set up by the DOE. 

The development of hybrid micro-grid systems for isolated communities would be promoted. 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.


Supply

Existing incentives for improving the efficiency of hydroelectric power production would be reauthorized through fiscal year 2025, and FERC would be designated as the lead agency to deal with all hydropower-related permitting backlogs.

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 within 10 years. 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

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.

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.

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. It would be funded at a level of $610 million per year from 2017-2020, and $560 million would be available in 2021.

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

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). Directors of National Laboratories would be authorized to remove technology barriers that harm private sector interest, and demonstrate potential commercial applications of research and technologies arising from National Laboratory activities.

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.

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.

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 Reauthorization

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.

Impact

Consumers, producers, and suppliers of energy in the U.S, including individuals and businesses; state, local, and tribal governments; the DOE, and the DOI.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2012

$43.00 Billion
The CBO estimates that this bill would result in the spending of $32 billion over the 2016-2020 period, plus another $11 billion that would be spent after 2020. After accounting for the present value of anticipated efficiency and cost savings, these expenditures are equivalent to spending $29 million over the 2016-2020 period.

More Information

In-Depth: It was observed in The Hill that this legislation represents the Senate’s first attempt to craft legislation broadly reforming U.S. energy policy in eight years, and sponsoring Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) believes her bill to be a much needed update on the status quo:

“Our energy renaissance has taken us from a position of energy scarcity to one of energy abundance, but current law rarely reflects that fact. After months of working together, the bipartisan legislation we introduced today marks a critical step toward the modernization of our federal energy policies. By focusing on areas where agreement was possible, we have assembled a robust bill with priorities from many senators that will promote our economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness.”

The Heritage Foundation has opposed this bill on the grounds that it gives the federal government too much power in energy markets:

“Billed as a bipartisan effort to promote energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation, the legislation is a continuation of government meddling in the energy economy. Provisions in the Act waste taxpayer resources, override consumer preference, direct money toward politically preferred technologies, and appease special interests.”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed this bill by a vote of 18 to 4.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Derek Gavey)

AKA

Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016

Official Title

An original bill to provide for the modernization of the energy policy of the United States, and for other purposes.

    "Right now, we have an energy policy that is rigged to boost the profits of big oil companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell at the expense of average Americans. CEO’s are raking in record profits while climate change ravages our planet and our people — all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into complacency in the face of climate change. Enough is enough. It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy, and finally puts people before the profits of polluters." [berniesanders.com]
    Like (427)
    Follow
    Share
    Hate comprehensive all-inclusive big government bills. Break the comprehensive apart into smaller bills assuring less of that government crony capitalism.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    "The energy challenges our country faces are severe and have gone unaddressed for far too long. Our addiction to foreign oil doesn't just undermine our national security and wreak havoc on our environment -- it cripples our economy and strains the budgets of working families all across America." [change.gov]
    Like (189)
    Follow
    Share
    "We can’t address our climate challenge without ending our reliance on fossil fuels — full stop. I would take aggressive executive action and fight for legislation to slash emissions and put our nation on track to be powered by 100% renewable energy within 35 years." [martinomalley.com]
    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
    The private sector will sort itself out by what people buy or don't buy. Keep the fed out of private sector as much as possible. Regulations just cost the public more money and lose more jobs by increasing the the cost of doing business.
    Like (18)
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    Share
    Oil is such an archaic form of energy. With renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and even power generated by ocean tides, it's time to let oil stay in the ground where it belongs.
    Like (13)
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    This has many great ideas! Student training and streamlining grants / loans for energy efficient technologies. But it's the repeal of the 2030 agenda to phase fossil fuels out & stream Lining oil drilling operations is not okay.
    Like (8)
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    It is time to end our reliance on fossil fuels. And to recognize that the concept of "clean coal" is a myth.
    Like (7)
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    Our current energy policy serves a handful of the ultra wealthy. Let's have a policy that serves the American people and the planet we live on
    Like (7)
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    The environment is a part of us; to destroy it is to destroy ourselves.
    Like (6)
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    Instead of having one huge bill for energy reforms, why not separate it into smaller bills? This allows us to take any large government project one step at a time with everyone aware of exactly what needs to be done, and what amount is specifically needed for that step.
    Like (6)
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    This is the 21st century. We can do better than relying on energy sources that date back to a century ago or more.
    Like (6)
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    Need to move the country onto renewable energy.
    Like (5)
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    We need to be focusing on green energy alternatives, we shouldn't be investing in toxic resources.
    Like (4)
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    Why wouldn't you want renewable energy ?
    Like (3)
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    There is a lot wrong with this bill, no doubt; but furtherance of the goals laid out in it is still laudable and necessary. Improvements in our energy infrastructure will be crucial to our nation's continued economic competitiveness and the Federal government is uniquely positioned to help drive this needed change forward. Nor should it be despised that this is a bipartisan effort; it's not like we enjoy a surfeit of these. Overall, I would support this bill.
    Like (3)
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    Reform the energy industry. The government is not picking losers and winners, it is simply allotting money towards a growing industry, that can sustain our planet without killing it. If the insidious dirty energy companies want to get with the program and reform with us they can. Otherwise, if they stay in the past, they're going to get past.
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    Broad reform = bad policy. Let the policies in this bill be voted on as stand-alone bills, and let the chips fall where they may. The American people should stop accepting these enormous all-encompassing bills laden with pork, subsidies, and set asides.
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    Sounds too complex. Let's pass smaller bills with narrower scope.
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    Basically a gift to the GOP's owners in the form of a streamlined process to drill on federal lands and get rid of regulations they don't like. A few things thrown in that SOUND good but no hard wins for renewable and clean energy.
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