Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hagel Introduces Comprehensive Energy Reform Legislation

Hagel Introduces Comprehensive Energy Reform Legislation

June 12th, 2007 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced legislation today to provide a comprehensive approach to the issues of U.S. energy security and climate policy. Hagel’s legislative package consists of four bills which address research and development, regulatory reform, tax policy, and energy security policy. It focuses on the role of private-public partnerships, technology, and removing existing barriers to national energy security.

“For decades our country has drifted without a coherent national energy policy. This policy must incorporate our economic, environmental and national security priorities. My comprehensive energy reform legislation will help empower America to develop the resources required to meet our 21st century energy needs and compete in a new competitive world,” said Hagel.

“This legislation will address four integral components for an effective U.S. national energy policy – a fundamental shift in the way energy research and development is approached; regulatory reform; energy infrastructure investment; and energy security policy.

“We can no longer defer the tough choices necessary to ensure that the next generation of Americans have the opportunities, freedoms and quality of life that Americans before us worked hard to build,” concluded Hagel.

~Below are fact sheets on the four pieces of legislation~

The Energy Research and Development Prioritization Act of 2007

This bill reforms the way in which energy research and development priorities are determined by:

- requiring the Secretary of Energy to conduct a survey of all interested parties within government, academia, and private industry, to determine the top ten energy “problems to be solved” that are required to achieve energy security in the future;

- authorizing the Secretary to identify two additional research and development priorities;

- refocusing all research and development funding towards resolving those top energy “problems to be solved”;

- establishing an Energy Technology Information Network which contains a database of all current Federal research and development efforts and allows private industry to contribute to the database; and

- encouraging collaboration among scientists from public and private institutions to develop energy solutions while protecting intellectual property rights.

The Energy Regulatory Reform Act of 2007

This bill promotes the use of innovative energy technologies and removes regulatory barriers by:

- establishing an outside commission in each appropriate federal department and agency to review existing regulations that have had a significant impact on energy security;

- requiring the commission to make recommendations to each agency head on how to reform regulations to increase energy security;

- requiring a Regulatory Impact Analysis be completed before completion of an agency/department’s final rule for every new major energy regulation that could have an adverse effect on energy security;

- reforming the “permitting process” for new energy facilities by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be the lead agency. The EPA shall establish a time line in which all local, state and federal permitting processes must be completed; and

- amending the National Environmental Protection Act to require an assessment of a proposed project’s impact on the energy security of the United States.

The Energy Infrastructure Tax Reform and Incentives Act of 2007

This bill reforms the tax code by:

- reducing the recovery period for investment in electricity transmission lines from 20 years to 15 years
- reducing the recovery period for investment in smart-grid computer devices from 20 years to 5 years;
- providing accelerated depreciation for qualified cellulosic ethanol plants, coal-to-liquid facilities, and dedicated ethanol pipelines; and
- providing a tax credit for voluntary installation of pollution control technology on energy facilities and small businesses.

This bill encourages investment in clean energy technologies by:

- modifying and expanding the clean renewable energy bonds for public power facilities;
- extends tax credits for investment and installation of residential and commercial wind, solar and geothermal projects;
- provides tax credits for investment in best available transmission technologies for investor owned utilities;
- extends the Production Tax Credit for renewable electricity generation for an additional 5 years; and
- provides incentives for green building energy efficient technologies.

Clean, Reliable, Efficient and Secure Energy Act of 2007

Title I - Electricity Sector
This title encourages the use of clean and efficient energy technologies in the electricity sector by:

- establishing a public-private commission to set energy efficiency standards for appliances to accelerate achievements in energy efficiency;
- encouraging the use of Smart Grid technology for new and replacement electricity transmission;
- creating a Clean Energy Portfolio Standard to require that an additional 20% of national electricity generation by 2030 comes from clean technologies (e.g., renewable sources, nuclear power, and clean coal with carbon capture);
- resolving outstanding issues to allow Yucca Mountain to begin receiving spent nuclear waste (e.g., securing the surrounding lands, building a rail line for transport of the waste into the site, and allowing greater access to the Nuclear Waste Fund); and
- providing loan guarantees and regulatory incentives to encourage the use of advanced coal-fired electricity generation technologies.

Title II - Transportation Sector
This title enhances energy security in the transportation sector by:

- amending the current laws governing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), and increasing the CAFE standard by 4% per year only if the increase is technologically feasible and would not compromise safety;
- requiring the federal government to report on the average fuel economy of the federal fleet to better assess the government’s energy efficiency;
- providing States and local governments grants and regulatory incentives to encourage investment in transportation energy efficiency measures (e.g., traffic signal coordination and minimizing vehicle idling times);

- creating a separate Renewable Fuel Standard for renewable or alternative diesel fuel;
- encouraging the growth of the coal-to-liquid industry by allowing loan guarantees and by requiring the phased reduction of traditional fossil fuel use in the Department of Defense aircraft fleet; and
- lifting the moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf, for those States who request it, to allow oil and natural gas exploration and production.

Title III - Buildings and Manufacturing Sectors

This title requires the increased efficiency of Federal facilities and encourages increased efficiency in the manufacturing sector by:
- establishing an Office of High-Performance Green Buildings in the General Services Administration, that would develop and enforce energy efficiency requirements for all newly acquired or renovated Federal buildings;
- stimulating the commercialization of new, energy efficient building technologies by requiring that energy efficiency technologies are used in federal buildings;
- providing grants to states and local governments to make energy efficiency improvements in public schools; and
- establishing a public-private commission to study and develop new manufacturing processes and materials that are able to use a diverse array of energy sources to provide enhanced security, flexibility and competitive edge to the manufacturing industry.

Title IV - National Carbon Policy

This title establishes the groundwork of a national carbon policy that is necessary for any future action on carbon emissions by:
- establishing a National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Registry;
- requiring a National Academy of Sciences report to study any commercial or industrial uses of captured carbon dioxide other than sequestration;
- requiring the Secretary of Energy to conduct a carbon dioxide storage assessment in the contiguous 48 states;
- creating a Regulatory Reform for Carbon Sequestration commission to determine the regulatory barriers to siting manufacturing, power plants and other necessary infrastructure near sites identified by the carbon dioxide storage assessment;
- assigning liability of full carbon dioxide sequestration locations to the federal government; and
- stipulating that if 75% of the authorized funding for this section is not appropriated, all requirements on the private sector regarding investment in carbon capture and sequestration are terminated.

Title V - Studies, Energy Education and Office of Technological Assessment
This title provides information for Congress and the public to make future energy decisions by:

- Requiring studies to look at:
- requiring replacement of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment that do not meet minimum efficiency standards at time of sale of residential homes;
- the energy security benefits and costs of instituting a CAFÉ standard for heavy trucks;
- the use of synthetic fuel in commercial aircraft;
- infrastructure needs for an expanded Renewable Fuel Standard; and
- the necessity of building a Strategic Natural Gas Reserve similar to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve;

- Establishing a national Energy Day that would coordinate public outreach and educational activities for primary and secondary schools; and
- Reestablishing the Office of Technological Assessment to provide objective assessments to Congress regarding technologies, scientific needs and foreign science and technological capabilities.

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