On Wednesday, April 20, 2016 the Senate passed the first broad energy bill in nearly a decade. The bill known as the Energy Policy Modernization Act, would respond to the rapidly transforming energy landscape aimed to better align the nation’s oil, gas and electricity systems with the changing ways that power is produced in the United States.
Its authors, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the panel’s ranking Democrat, purposely stepped away from any sweeping efforts to solve or fundamentally change the nation’s core energy challenges.
While broad it touches on almost every sector of America’s energy economy. It doesn’t call for big policy changes, just changes necessary to support America’s transformation from an energy importer to an energy exporter, courtesy of the shale oil and gas boom.
Some of the highlights include:
- Promoting renewable energy by requiring operators of electricity lines, transformers, and other elements of the electrical grid to upgrade the system, with a focus on large-scale storage systems for electricity to better accommodate the expanding production of wind and solar power
- Encourage so-called clean coal technology, including projects to capture carbon dioxide generated by coal-fired power plants.
- Create and strengthen several programs devoted to improving energy efficiency in buildings.
- Speed the export of domestically produced natural gas.
- Provisions to address the threat of cyberattacks on the nation’s electrical grid
- Permanently authorizing the national Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program for protecting and maintaining national parks and wilderness sites.