U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • Senator Coons applauds Supreme Court ruling on cross-state air pollution

    Senator Coons applauded the Supreme Court’s 6-2 ruling on Tuesday upholding the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which establishes controls to reduce the flow of air pollution across state lines. The CSAPR requires Eastern and Midwestern states to curb power plant emissions that contribute to air pollution in downwind states like Delaware, Maryland, and Connecticut. Delaware is already in compliance with the rule, which falls under the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” provision.

    “Air pollution doesn’t stop at state borders. As a downwind state, Delaware suffers the consequences when our neighbors pollute the air. Our state has done its part to curb harmful emissions, but pollution from neighboring states continues to threaten the health of our communities. The EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will ensure our neighbors do their part to reduce harmful emissions and meet healthy clean air standards. I commend the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold this critical protection for Delaware and our East Coast neighbors.” 

    Carried by wind and weather, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide released by power plants travel long distances and result in harmful levels of smog and soot in downwind communities. In Delaware, this pollution has resulted in serious and costly public health consequences, including asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, and premature death. The CSAPR will slash millions of tons of smokestack pollution, improving air quality in Delaware and reducing the health, environmental, and economic costs associated with air pollution.

    Chris has strongly supported implementation of the CSAPR and has repeatedly opposed efforts in the Senate to block the rule, as well as other EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act aimed at reducing air pollution and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Clean Air Act
    Supreme Court
  • Senator Coons praises launch of Climate Data Initiative

    Senator Coons praised the President’s launch this week of a new Climate Data Initiative, part of the administration’s national strategy to combat climate change first announced by President Obama last June.

    The initiative is an effort to make climate-relevant information and resources collected by the federal government more accessible to the public. New datasets, web services, and tools related to coastal flooding and sea level rise will now be available on the new Climate.data.gov to help city planners, resource managers, farmers, hospitals, and businesses better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change. An innovation challenge also launched this week will encourage entrepreneurs, technologists, and developers to create new tools that increase public awareness of coastal flood risks and other vulnerabilities.

     “In Delaware, we’ve already begun to see the impacts of climate change on our businesses, our infrastructure, and our local environment,” Senator Coons said. “We can’t fight climate change by denying it, but we can make our communities safer and our economy more secure by sharing valuable tools and information that will help us prepare for the changes to come. The new Climate Data Initiative will leverage the tremendous data-gathering capacity of the federal government to fuel private sector innovation and address our most pressing climate challenges. This is an important step that will help our communities take smarter, more coordinated action on climate change.”

    Read more about the White House’s Climate Data Initiative here: http://1.usa.gov/1gPGWd5

    Last week, Senator Coons and 27 of his colleagues held an all night session on the Senate floor to urge action on climate change. You can watch and read Senator Coons’ remarks here: http://1.usa.gov/N46Hyd

  • New initiative will promote safety improvements for oil by rail

    While rail transportation has proven an efficient means of transporting North America’s growing supply of crude oil, increased oil by rail traffic has also raised serious environmental and safety concerns in recent years.

    Following several recent, high-profile accidents by trains transporting crude oil – including a December derailment in North Dakota in which 400,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled – the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Association of American Railroads (AAR) have come together to announce the roll out of new safety measures for crude by rail operations.

    The agreement institutes an array of new safety measures to prevent train derailments, including implementation of new, more effective breaking technology and traffic routing technology that determines the safest and most secure routes, increased track inspections, and reduced speed requirements through designated urban areas.

    “Our rail safety procedures must keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of North American oil production,” Senator Coons said. “In January, a derailment in Philadelphia nearly ended in disaster, and over the last year, devastating crashes in communities from North Dakota to Alabama have underscored the need to update and strengthen freight safety measures. The improved safety procedures announced by DOT and AAR are an important step in what must be a sustained effort to protect our communities and environment from future disasters.” 

    North American oil production has expanded rapidly in recent years thanks to growing production in the Canadian oil sands and increased shale oil production in North Dakota, Montana, and Texas. Nearly 70 percent of the United States’ crude oil demand is now supplied from production in North America, displacing imports from overseas. This crude oil boom has created new transportation challenges as producers have increasingly turned to rail to transport oil to refineries in market hubs across the U.S., including PBF’s refinery in Delaware City.

    According to rail industry estimates, U.S. freight railroads carried more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil in 2013, compared to 9,500 carloads in 2008. In just the last three years, crude imports by rail from Canada have increased more than 20-fold. PBF’s Delaware City Refinery, which directly supports 500 jobs in Delaware, receives 1-2 unit trains of Bakken crude oil shipments per day.

  • Senator Coons gets high marks from League of Conservation Voters

    The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has once again recognized Senator Coons’ strong environmental voting record, awarding him a 92 percent rating for 2013 in their latest National Environmental Scorecard. The scorecard provides objective, factual information about the most important environmental legislation considered by Congress and the corresponding voting records of all members. Senator Coons’ lifetime rating is now 95 percent.

    The 2013 LCV scorecard includes 13 Senate votes that demonstrate Chris’ commitment to addressing important environmental issues affecting Delaware and the nation. Chris scored above the Senate average by 35 percent and Delaware was noted as one of 26 states with an average score above 90, thanks to high scores from all three members of the Delaware congressional delegation.

    At home in Delaware and in the Senate, Chris has been a strong voice for environmental conservation, clean and renewable energy development, and measures to curb and combat the effects of climate change. Over the last year, Chris voted for disaster relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy and investments to make our communities more resilient against future storms, as well as to preserve investments in advanced next generation biofuels by the Department of Defense, the nation’s single largest energy user. He also opposed efforts to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases for the purpose of combating climate change.

    Chris advocated heavily for the inclusion of strong conservation provisions in the farm bill approved by Congress last week. He has led a letter to the Appropriations Committee for the past three years urging robust funding for farm bill conservation programs.

    For over 40 years, the National Environmental Scorecard issued by LCV has been the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues. The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes to be scored.

    Read Senator Coons’ scorecard here: http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/chris-coons

    Download the full report here: http://scorecard.lcv.org/sites/scorecard.lcv.org/files/LCV_SCORE_FINAL_2.3.14.pdf

  • Senator Coons sponsors bill to secure critical minerals

    Most Americans are familiar with the importance of oil for gasoline and diesel, copper for electric wiring and motors, and aluminum for packing and vehicles.  However, we do not often hear about the importance of yttrium, cerium, neodymium, or lanthanum for consumer uses.  These basic elements are critical for more efficient light bulbs, oil refinery catalysts, lasers, and batteries respectively.  

    To help secure the continued supply of minerals vital to our national defense, domestic energy, electronics production, and medical industry technologies, Senator Coons recently joined a bipartisan group of 16 senators to introduce the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 (S. 1600). The legislation includes a number of provisions that would help revitalize the domestic supply of these precious minerals, many of which are in short supply domestically and come from overseas.

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the United States is currently 100 percent dependent on foreign sources for 17 key mineral commodities and 50 percent dependent on overseas suppliers for some 24 additional minerals. The goal of the Critical Minerals Policy Act is to secure a more stable supply of mineral commodities by developing domestic sources, recycling existing supplies, and researching alternatives for critical minerals. Chris is also a strong supporter of efforts at the University of Delaware to develop alternatives to the use of rare earth elements, a subset of critical minerals.   

    Through the establishment of a federal register in the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Critical Minerals Policy Act will help officials pinpoint which minerals are subject to potential supply restrictions and develop strategies to prevent price shocks and balance market demand. Other agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE) and USGS, will join the DOI to strengthen educational research and workforce training critical to the development of domestic mineral supply chains. The legislation would also streamline the permit and review process of critical mineral mining on public lands to reduce costs and facilitate the environmentally responsible production of domestic resources.       

    To further public understanding of critical mineral solutions, the Critical Minerals Policy Act would expand research programs aimed at promoting efficient mineral use and recycling across various U.S. industries. The DOE would also submit an assessment of domestically trained workers capable of carrying out critical mineral research, analysis, manufacturing, and production to enhance the domestic availability of critical minerals.

    According to the National Academy of Sciences, more than 25,000 pounds of new minerals are needed every year for each person in the United States in order to make the items we use every day for infrastructure, energy, transportation, communications, health care and defense. By coordinating efforts across federal agencies, the Critical Minerals Policy Act will help to update mineral policy for the 21st century and ensure our position in the world as both an economic and technological leader.     

  • University of Delaware awarded $3 million energy innovation research grant

    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.

  • Senator Coons welcomes Ducks Unlimited leaders to Delaware

    U.S. Senator Chris Coons joins Ducks Unlimited leaders for a BBQ dinner in Dover on September 4, 2013.Senator Coons joined members of Delaware’s Ducks Unlimited (DU) Chapter to welcome visiting DU National CEO Dale Hall, Board President George Dunklin, and DU of Mexico Board President John Tomke to Delaware at a barbeque dinner Wednesday night in Dover. Hall, Dunklin, and Tomke were in town to congratulate Delaware DU members for their outstanding fundraising efforts, which bring in nearly $1 million each year for conservation in the state. The daylong visit included meetings with Delaware chapter members and a clay shoot.

    “DU and its members in Delaware are among our nation’s best advocates for wetland conservation, farmland preservation, and preserving sporting traditions,” Senator Coons said. “Delaware’s thriving wildlife and pristine landscapes speak to the enormous success of DU’s efforts to conserve our vital natural resources. It was an honor to welcome DU’s national leaders to Delaware to show off the outstanding accomplishments of our state chapter and discuss opportunities for continued collaboration.”

    Delaware’s DU chapter has more than 6,300 members and has earned a national reputation for its passionate, active membership and highly successful fundraising. Delaware is also situated along the Atlantic Flyway, a major migration and wintering route for North American waterfowl. Over the past seven years, DU’s staff and volunteers have helped to conserve over 15,000 acres in Delaware and 13 million acres across North America.

    During Wednesday’s dinner, Chris spoke with DU leaders about important legislative priorities, including passing a five-year farm bill, preserving funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), increasing the price of the Duck Stamp, and reintroducing a sportsmen’s package of conservation, hunting and fishing bills.

    Chris has been a strong advocate for each of these priorities in the Senate, supporting programs that protect wildlife and habitat, water quality, and open space. Earlier this year, he helped to introduce legislation to reauthorize NAWCA and cosponsored a bill to secure permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which protects land and waterways of state and national importance.

    More information about Delaware Ducks Unlimited can be found here: http://www.ducks.org/delaware/

    The organization’s national website is: www.ducks.org.

    Ducks Unlimited
    Farm Bill
  • Senator Coons congratulates Delaware EPSCoR on launch of climate change project

    Senator Coons congratulated Delaware’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Thursday on the launch of its third grant project, and commended the program’s accomplishments over its ten-year history in the state. The National Science Foundation awarded a five-year, $20-million Research Infrastructure Improvement grant to Delaware EPSCoR in June for research focused on sea level rise and renewable energy.

    “For ten years, the EPSCoR program has brought Delaware’s best and brightest scientists and educators together to pioneer innovative technologies and train the next generation of experts in rapidly growing fields,” Senator Coons said. “Each successive grant project has expanded our universities’ capacity to produce cutting-edge research, and helped Delaware become a leading hub for science and technology education. This grant will allow Delaware EPSCoR to continue supporting its successful programs and address the critical effects of climate change on our coastal areas.”

    Delaware’s project will focus on water quality and renewable-energy use in vulnerable coastal areas subject to pressures from land use and climate changes. The research employs natural, physical, and social science approaches to examine the effects of rising sea levels on the cycling of soil-bound contaminants. The project will also investigate coupled land use and climate change impacts on water and natural systems ranging from tidal wetlands to agricultural land, to densely populated and polluted urban areas. Novel sensors will be developed for environmental monitoring. The project will also address renewable energy, including offshore wind.

    The University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wesley College, and Delaware Technical Community College will collaboratively address these themes using innovative research approaches and educational programs. The project includes public outreach activities and partnerships with private industry and government.

    EPSCoR is designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation's (NSF) mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. Twenty-eight states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are currently eligible to participate. Through the program, NSF establishes regional partnerships with governments, higher education, and industry that strengthen states’ research and development capacities and boost academic competitiveness. Delaware was designated an EPSCoR state in January 2003, and program grants awarded in 2005 and 2008 have supported two previous projects focused on enhancing environmental science, complex environmental systems, and ecosystem health research.

    Delaware was one of only five states awarded an NSF grant for science and engineering academic research.

  • Video: Senator Coons discusses impact of climate change on Delaware

    Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Monday afternoon spoke on the Senate floor calling for action to address the adverse effects of climate change in Delaware. The speech was given on Earth Day.

  • Senator Coons urges support for wetland conservation

    Senator Coons joined ten of his Senate colleagues Tuesday in introducing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2017.  Since 1989, NAWCA has provided critical support for partnership efforts to protect habitat for waterfowl, fish, and wildlife.

    NAWCA provides matching grants to organizations and individuals in the United States, Canada, and Mexico who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects that benefit migratory birds and other wildlife. Over the last two decades, NAWCA has been highly successful in generating matching funding to protect millions of acres of habitat across North America.

    NAWCA currently funds eight projects in Delaware that have conserved a total of 7,528 acres of wildlife habitat. The program has awarded more than $4 million in funds that stimulated partner contributions of more than $7.5 million. Delaware also benefits from three multi-state NAWCA projects that have conserved 45,500 acres of wildlife habitat on the Chesapeake Bay.

    As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Chris has been a strong advocate for environmental conservation. He supports programs that help protect wildlife and habitat, water quality, and open space, including NAWCA, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Forest Legacy Program, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, and farm bill conservation programs.  

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