In a personal speech on the Senate floor this week, Senator Coons shared his own first-hand account of the climate change impacts he has witnessed during trips to Glacier National Park in Montana, the Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia, and at home in Delaware. He urged his colleagues in Congress to take action now – to support clean energy and energy efficiency and back responsible limits on harmful carbon emissions – so we can change the course of our future and leave our children a healthier world. Read his full remarks here: http://1.usa.gov/SAoDDB
The White House on Thursday launched the first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), a national assessment of the nation’s energy infrastructure that builds upon legislation co-sponsored by Senator Coons last year.
The QER, which is part of a broader national climate action plan announced by the President last summer, will help to coordinate energy policy around national priorities such as greater energy and climate security. The initiative builds upon goals laid out in the Quadrennial Energy Review Act, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Coons to authorize a comprehensive review of current domestic capabilities and future energy needs. The proposal is modeled after the highly-regarded Quadrennial Defense Review, a legislatively-mandated review of defense strategy and priorities.
"A strategic blueprint of America’s energy priorities is a critical resource for innovators working to support our clean energy economy,” Chris said. “The Quadrennial Energy Review is a great planning tool to identify a baseline assessment of our technological, economic, and national security capabilities. It will then put our federal resources to work to help us better coordinate with the private sector and promote energy innovation. This is a critical component of an all-of-the-above energy policy, and I am pleased that the President is putting it into action today.”
The first review is expected by January 2015, and will focus on the development of a national strategy for securing the infrastructure needed to transport, transmit, and distribute energy. More than a dozen federal agencies will participate in the review, along with members of the private sector, state and local governments, labor organizations, and the academic community.
Read more about the Quadrennial Energy Review here: http://1.usa.gov/1iWVs8C
Senator Coons is proud to announce that the University of Delaware (UD) has been awarded a $3 million research grant by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to help produce technologies than can convert natural gas into liquid fuels for transportation uses. The award was granted as part of a $34 million ARPA-E project called Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy, or REMOTE, focused on gas to liquid transformations. As one of Delaware’s leading research organizations, UD aims to engineer a synthetic organism capable of converting waste gases from industry and electricity production into a liquid fuel capable of powering transportation, among other practical uses.
“Our nation’s vast supply of waste gases represents a significant untapped resource with the potential to further U.S. energy independence and reduce the strain on our environment,” Senator Coons said. “I am thrilled that the University of Delaware is leading the way on this groundbreaking research, and I thank ARPA-E for their continued support of innovative energy projects in Delaware.”
Over the past few years, funding from ARPA-E has helped to keep Delaware on the cutting edge of the advancing clean energy economy, and Chris has been leading the effort in the Senate to ensure that ARPA-E is able to continue to invest in America’s innovative new technologies.
Earlier this year, ARPA-E awarded UD researchers $790,000 to focus on high voltage flow batteries, and in 2010, the university received a $4.4 million grant to develop a new generation of high-energy magnets used to operate hybrid electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other high-performance electric machines. DuPont also received an $8.9 million ARPA-E grant to develop a commercially viable process for the production of an advanced bio-fuel from seaweed.
Created in 2007 as part of the America COMPETES Act, ARPA-E is a federal agency designed to support innovative research into energy technologies and bring those technologies to the marketplace for the betterment of society. The agency was modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a parallel institution focusing on military research that helped produce the Internet and GPS technology. By channeling research funds toward select projects, ARPA-E helps to cultivate groundbreaking energy technologies that would otherwise be overlooked by the private sector and bridge the gap between basic energy research and social innovation.
A coalition of governors from 23 states wrote to Senator Coons Thursday to thank him for his efforts to create cheaper, cleaner energy. In the letter, the governors called for the passage of the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
The bill would make it easier and cheaper for investors to fund a broad range of clean energy projects including wind, solar, fuel cells, and energy efficient buildings. The Governors Wind Energy Coalition’s letter states that “the Master Limited Partnership structure can help reduce the cost of capital and attract more investors to our states.”
The legislation expands access to a business structure known as "master limited partnerships." Since 1987, the ability to form a master limited partnership has been mostly limited to projects involving oil and gas pipelines. This has allowed those industries to explode in size and attract huge amounts of investment. This letter reflects that the reality that equal access to financing for all sources of energy makes sense, regardless of party or regional affiliation. From Hawaii to Iowa and from Maryland to Montana, governors see that master limited partnerships make sense and passage of Senator Coons’ legislation is a step towards a better energy future.
The following states are members of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington
President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Energy, Ernie Moniz, told senators in his confirmation hearing today that he supported Senator Coons' plan to expand the list of energy technology projects eligible for the "master limited partnership" status.
The transcript follows:
Do you see an opportunity, looking back at some of the resources that we have been talking about, as a way to better streamline — when you look at the marketplace and how things are being financed for — for clean energy solutions, do you see a better — a better way for us to make continued progress on clean energy solutions in — in the development of new technology?
Well, I'm certainly aware, and very interested in a number of discussions about different approaches, such as, you know extension of master limited partnerships, REITS to clean energy, and as those prove to be — and I know in — in the — here, members are also interested in those approaches. Those, or others that can help move a lot of, kind of private capital into the game would be very, very, very interesting and I would love to work on those with the members.
The New York Times featured an op-ed on Saturday about the importance of developing new ways to finance alternative energy projects. The op-ed, which was penned by Dan Reicher, Executive Director of Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and Felix Mormann, a Fellow with the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, discusses Senator Coons’ proposal to introduce legislation to allow master limited partnership investment in renewable energy to help “level the playing field between conventional and renewable energy.”
If renewable energy is going to become fully competitive and a significant source of energy in the United States, then further technological innovation must be accompanied by financial innovation so that clean energy sources gain access to the same low-cost capital that traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas enjoy.
Two financial mechanisms that have driven investment in traditional energy projects — real estate investment trusts and master limited partnerships — could, with some help from Washington, be extended to renewable energy projects to lower their cost and make America’s energy future cleaner, cheaper — and more democratic.
Click here to read the full op-ed on New York Time’s website.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work to promote clean energy technology.
NEWARK — Senator Coons was on hand to commemorate the ground-breaking of Bloom Energy's new manufacturing facility on the grounds of the old Chrysler plant in Newark Monday morning -- an important moment for the Delaware's economic future.
"When we think about the threads that will keep America competitive in the global economy for the next generation, we think of innovation, entrepreneurship, clean energy and manufacturing - and all of those are coming together today here in Delaware," Senator Coons said. "In building its East Coast facility here in Newark, Bloom isn't just investing in its own cutting-edge technology - Bloom is investing in Delaware's communities, our families, and our future. This is a wonderful day for Delaware, and is a day made possible because of what Delaware brings to the table: a talented workforce, a welcoming business climate, and the tremendous leadership of folks like Governor Markell, Secretary O'Mara and DEDO Director Levin. I am proud to welcome Bloom Energy to Delaware today, and look forward to a long, fruitful relationship."
Earth Day is a day for us to take a step back and recognize the importance of our natural resources to our health, economy, and way of life.
The environmental challenges facing our nation, and our planet, can seem daunting at times. From climate change, to water scarcity, to species extinctions, these issues are all incredibly complicated and will require long term, comprehensive, and international solutions. However, Chris believes that it is important for us to remember that there are simple things we can do in our everyday lives that can help. You can save resources by reusing and recycling containers and materials; save energy by turning off lights, appliances, and computers; save water by turning off faucets; and you can help wildlife by building bat boxes, keeping a bird feeder, and planting native plants in your yard. These things may seem small, but if everyone did a little, together, we can do a lot. These efforts lead to real, positive impacts for the environment, and can help change the way we look at environmental problems.
Chris also believes that it is important for us all to get out and enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. Doing so will help us enjoy our open spaces, stay healthy, and connect with our neighbors and broader community. Chris is proud of Delaware’s efforts to create a more livable state, with its Walkable, Bikeable, Delaware plan, which will create a coherent vision for biking and walking infrastructure in Delaware and invest in new recreation opportunities and alternate means for transportation. One of the projects Chris has been helping to lead is the development of a recreational trail along the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal. The trail will connect Delaware City with Chesapeake City, create jobs, link communities, and serve as a regional destination for the hikers, bicyclists, joggers, horseback riders, and anglers. Construction of the trail is expected to begin this May. Chris is also very supportive of programs that conserve habitat, farmland, and our hunting heritage, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and the suite of farm bill conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP), and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
While Chris understands that fossil fuels will continue to play an important role in the near term, he firmly believes that we need to be making alternative choices for the future. Developing innovative forms of renewable and low carbon energy are critical not only to protecting our environment but also to our long-term economic competitiveness. There is state-of-the-art research and development will depend on both public and private investments across the country in the areas of solar, wind, thermal, and biomass energy as well as with energy capture and storage technology that could transform our economy. It is important for the federal government to ensure that this critical research continues to receive the resources it needs. In particular, Chris is focused on promoting the next generation of advanced biofuels, deploying more renewables and energy efficiency into the electricity system, and helping Delaware to become the first state to deploy large-scale wind energy technology off its coast. Imagine the immense benefits to our economy, environment, and our way of life from manufacturing more clean energy products in Delaware and powering our homes with home-grown wind energy.
Happy Earth Day!
This week, the White House released a one-year progress report on the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which identifies steps to help reduce our reliance on foreign oil, save families and businesses money, and make the U.S. a global leader in clean energy.
The President’s plan is critically important for our energy future because it identifies steps to move beyond the piecemeal approach of last several decades and offers a comprehensive set of energy policy goals.
As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Coons is actively engaged in promoting energy security, efficiency, and clean energy innovation. He believes a clear, cohesive energy policy that includes both the public and the private sector would empower investors, innovators, researchers, and entrepreneurs to develop game-changing energy technologies.
In analyzing the White House’s progress report, a few key themes emerge:
Expanding Domestic Production of Oil and Gas and Reducing Imports
Since 2008, the U.S. has increased domestic oil production by more than 12 percent and natural gas production by roughly 15 percent, making America the new world leader in natural gas production. Currently, we have more oil and gas rigs operating than the rest of the world combined, and we are less dependent on foreign oil than in the last 16 years.
Chris believes that we must continue to grow our domestic energy production in ways that meets health and safety standards and limits environmental impact. While greater domestic production will not bring down gas prices overnight, it will contribute to our long-term energy security.
Establishing New Fuel Economy Standards
This past year, President Obama announced a historic agreement with major automakers to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025. The Energy Information Administration’s latest outlook recognized that fuel economy standards have contributed to our increased energy security.
Chris recently joined 29 of his fellow Senators in signing a letter expressing strong support for the new CAFE standards, which will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump and reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day – more than the total amount we import from OPEC.
Supporting Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Since 2009, the Administration has completed energy upgrades in more than one million homes across the country, many of which will save families over $400 on heating and cooling bills each year. Due to investments in clean energy, the U.S. has nearly doubled renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources since 2008.
Chris is a passionate advocate for clean energy innovation, in particular through the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. He recently had the opportunity to visit their conference and see cutting-edge energy ideas at work.
Ending Subsidies for Oil and Gas Companies
The President’s FY 2013 budget seeks to eliminate subsides for oil and gas companies that cost American taxpayers $4 billion annually and impede investments in cleaner energy. Chris agrees these subsidies are a waste of taxpayer dollars and provide unnecessary support for mature energy technology. He voted last year in favor of the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act (S. 258) to end these subsidies, and while this vote was unsuccessful, Chris will continue to work to ensure that clean energy industries are not disadvantaged in comparison to the oil and gas industry.
This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new climate change and clean air initiative at the State Department. This initiative will bring together a coalition of countries including Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Bangladesh, and Ghana to fight some of the biggest contributions to global climate change.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, in cooperation with the U.N. Environment Programme, will target so-called short-lived "climate forcers." Those substances like methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) remain in the atmosphere only days or weeks, unlike carbon dioxide, which lasts generations. Collectively, they account for 30-40% of current global warming. The initiative will look to find ways to reduce these pollutants that have the potential for reducing average global temperatures by ½ degree Celsius. This could be a significant reduction in light of the recent pledge reduce average global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius at last year’s international conference on climate change.
Senator Coons is a strong supporter of cooperative, international approaches to fighting climate change and improve clean air. Prior to last year’s international conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, he joined 15 of his Senate colleagues in signing a letter urging coordinated international efforts as we transition to a clean energy economy.
Chris was also glad to hear that additional countries, including many in Europe and Latin America, are expected to join the coalition next year. All reductions are voluntary and the programs are low cost or even cost neutral.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson joined Secretary Clinton for this morning’s announcement, highlighting the health benefits of the initiative. Her agency estimates these programs could save over 2.5 million lives and prevent some of the 30-50 million tons of agricultural losses each year due to these pollutants.