Editorial: All-of-the-Above Approach: Energy Bill Important Step by Lawmakers

For the first time in more than a decade, Congress is considering a common sense, all-of-the-above energy bill that includes a renewed focus on clean-coal technology.

Area lawmakers argue that the comprehensive legislation will lead to more jobs and revenue in energy-producing states like West Virginia and Virginia.

The Senate’s Energy and Policy Modernization Act was advanced last week to a House-Senate conference committee.

The bill includes several provisions that U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have been fighting for, including research and development for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies and pipeline modernization.

The U.S. Senate voted by an impressive margin of 84 to 3 last week to conference with the U.S. House of Representatives on the measure. Following the vote, Capito predicted that lawmakers are “one step closer to getting the bill across the finish line and signed into law” this year.

In addition to Capito, Manchin worked to secure several key clean-coal technology amendments into the proposed legislation.

“We have not had a major energy bill since 2005, so I am pleased that Congress is moving this process forward and sending this comprehensive energy bill to conference committee,” Manchin added. “I encourage all of my colleagues to support the critical measures I included in the Senate bill that ensure it is truly comprehensive. It is crucial for America’s continued success that we establish an all-of-the-above energy portfolio that utilizes all of our domestic resources and we must face the fact that coal will play an integral role in producing our electricity for decades to come.”

Those amendments that were added to the Energy Policy Modernization Act by Manchin. include: 

  • Raising and continuing the Coal Technology Program budget authorization to $632 million per year through fiscal year 2020 and $582 million in fiscal year 2021. Specifically, $275 million for fossil energy R&D program; $285 million for large scale pilot demonstration programs; and $50 million for demonstration project programs.
  • “Improving the conversion, use and storage of carbon dioxide produced from fossil fuels” as an objective to the Fossil Energy program of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to ensure a refocus on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) of CO2 at the Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy program.
  • Establishing a $22 million authorization for engineering net negative CO2 emission large-scale pilot projects from fiscal year 2017 through fiscal 2021 that covers bituminous, sub-bituminous and lignite coals.

Mandating a GAO study on fossil loan guarantee incentive programs to ensure that the loan guarantee program is effective and evaluate the impact and costs of implementing the recommendations in the January 2015 National Coal Council report entitled ‘‘Fossil Forward: Revitalizing CCS, Bringing Scale and Speed to CCS Deployment’’ on the effectiveness of the advanced fossil loan guarantee program.

Such an all-of-the-above energy bill is something that is long overdue. While the current measure is not perfect, it is still an improvement from the job-killing, anti-fossil fuel, anti-coal policies of the Obama administration. Our nation will never achieve true energy independence if we fail to make proper use of our still abundant supply of fossil fuels.

And yes, coal will still continue to play an important role in producing our electricity for years to come.

The renewed focus this legislation puts on clean-coal technology is certainly a step in the right direction. Lawmakers in both the Senate and the House should proceed with vigor on the Energy and Policy Modernization Act. The sooner this common sense energy bill can clear both houses of Congress the better.

Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph