House Passes Bills On Alternative Energy And Cybersecurity
WASHINGTON–The U.S. House of Representatives in late September passed a bill to boost alternative energy that some oil and gas advocates deem the wrong approach at the wrong time. The month also saw the House approve legislation intended to prevent successful cyberattacks against the country’s power grid and other energy infrastructure.
The House passed HR 4447, the Clean Energy Jobs and Innovation Act, on Sept. 24. According to its sponsor, Representative Tom O’Halleran, D-Az., the legislation aims to invest in electric grid modernization and security, increase the availability and affordability of renewable energy and storage technology, and make targeted workforce investments as the country transitions toward renewable energy by:
- Creating and funding a career skills program through the U.S. Department of Energy to train workers for constructing and installing energy-efficient building technologies;
- Streamlining available federal energy efficiency programs and financing to help improve efficiency and lower energy costs for schools;
- Directing the secretary of energy to accelerate critical research, development and demonstration programs to increase the availability of renewable energy and storage technologies to increase power generation from solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower resources; and
- Allocating $15 million in grants for advanced and innovative technology regarding optimal use of water, wastewater, water reuse systems and energy, while directing the secretary of energy to establish an energy-water advisory committee.
American Petroleum Institute Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola says HR 4447 leaves much to be desired.
“This is a missed opportunity to advance bipartisan solutions to address the real risks of climate change and ensure long-term availability of affordable, reliable and cleaner American energy,” he assesses. “There was a chance to pass a bill that took an important step forward in promoting carbon capture technology, and yet here we are taking two steps backward with provisions that hurt consumers in the middle of a global pandemic.
“A serious effort to tackle energy and climate challenges would focus on making measurable progress rather than ramming through a 900-page bill that dramatically redefines the nation’s regulatory system without any hearings or time for debate through regular order,” Macchiarola insists.
The cybersecurity legislation came in the form of four bills, all of which passed the House in the final days of September:
- HR 359, the Enhancing Grid Security Through Public-Private Partnerships Act, sponsored by Representatives Robert Latta, R-Oh., and Jerry McNerney, D-Ca.;
- HR 360, the Cyber Sense Act, also by Latta and McNerney;
- HR 362, the Energy Emergency Leadership Act, sponsored by Representatives Bobby Rush, D-Il., and Tim Walberg, R-Mi.; and
- HR 5760, the Grid Security Research and Development Act by Representatives Ami Bera, D-Ca., and Randy Weber, R-Tx.
According to press accounts, all four bills were passed by unanimous voice vote. Among those lauding their success are Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden, R-Or., and Energy Subcommittee ranking member Fred Upton, R-Mi.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of stopping supply chain threats, including ensuring the security of our electric grid. From electricity to WiFi, a secure, reliable grid is vital to all Americans,” says a joint statement from Walden and Upton. “We thank our House colleagues for supporting three bipartisan bills that will bolster our energy security and keep our grid safe from cyberattacks, and we urge our Senate colleagues to take swift action to keep our electric grid safe and running.”