House and Senate pass appropriations legislation funding FY 2019 Energy and Water Development

U.S. Capitol with flag

In June 2018, the House and Senate consecutively passed the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 5895) to make progress on the appropriations process before the fiscal year (FY) 2019 deadline of September 30, 2018. More FY 2019 appropriations bills are slated to be considered in July, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing to shorten the Senate’s August recess to proceed with appropriations legislation and nominee confirmation.  

FERC commissioners recommend against subsidizing coal and nuclear power plants in oversight hearing

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a formal oversight hearing for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 12, 2018, with all five commissioners present for the first time in a decade. FERC is responsible for regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, oil, and natural gas, and plays an integral role in reviewing proposals to build natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and providing licenses for hydroelectric power projects.

House committee approves three bills supporting scientific research at the Department of Energy

Technology background

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved three bipartisan bills on May 23 that support and expand science programs at the Department of Energy. H.R. 5905, the Department of Energy Science and Innovation Act of 2018, would reauthorize basic research programs in the DOE Office of Science. H.R. 5906, the ARPA-E Act of 2018, would expand the mission of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. H.R. 5907, the National Innovation Modernization by Laboratory Empowerment Act, would allow the directors of national laboratories approve cooperative research agreements costing $1 million or less.

BSEE proposes revisions and reductions in offshore drilling regulations

Drilling rig

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would revise and reduce regulations on offshore drilling outlined in the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Final Rule of 2016 (WCR). BSEE is soliciting comments by July 10 on the proposed rulemaking, particularly relating to BOP testing materials, the 0.5 ppg (pounds per gallon) drilling margin rule, and alternative ways to meet the RTM provisions.

House passes legislation to advance nuclear waste storage in New Mexico and Nevada

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic

On May 10, the House passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018 (H.R. 3053). The bill would resume and expedite licensing for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) to construct an interim storage facility for consolidation and temporary storage of nuclear waste in New Mexico until the completion of a permanent facility. The FY 2019 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill (S. 2975) does not include funding for Yucca Mountain storage, but the House bill (H.R. 5895) would provide $268 million to restart the adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application.

House lawmakers introduce legislation to reauthorize DOE Office of Fossil Energy

Natural gas pump

On May 10, Representative Marc Veasey (D-TX-33) introduced the Fossil Energy Research and Development Act (H.R. 5745), which would reauthorize the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy for the first time in over a decade to expand research on new carbon capture, sequestration, and utilization technologies. The proposed legislation authorizes $825 million for FY 2019, with slight funding increases each year through FY 2023, for these research expansions.

Senate and House appropriations bills increase funding for the Department of Energy

Capitol at night

The Department of Energy (DOE) is poised to receive a significant increase in funding for FY 2019, as both the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations rejected the administration’s proposed cut of $4 billion. The House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 would increase DOE funding by $925 million for a total budget of $35.5 billion, while the Senate’s version of the bill would provide a slightly lower total for DOE at $35.0 billion.

EPA announces revision of greenhouse gas emission standards

The White House

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency would revise fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for model years 2022 through 2025, citing recent data that suggest the current standards are not appropriate. The current standards, requiring automakers to engineer their fleets so gas mileage would average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, were established by President Barack Obama’s administration in 2012.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee discusses bipartisan bill to boost carbon capture technology

Cumulonimbus clouds

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to discuss the bipartisan Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act, or the USE IT Act (S.2602). Introduced by Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), the USE IT Act supports research and development of carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies and facilitates a new permitting process for CCUS projects and carbon dioxide pipelines. 


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