Energy and Environment

Building a sustainable future for Delaware and the nation through clean energy, innovation, and environmental stewardship

Both energy and the environment are key elements of our everyday lives. We need energy for our mobile devices, cars, homes, industries, businesses and more. However, we must also be careful stewards of our precious natural resources, ensuring that we can leave clean air, clean water, and healthy, vibrant ecosystems to our children. If we want to stay competitive, the United States has to outpace our foreign competitors in the race to discover, develop and commercialize clean energy technologies. This is important for our economy, jobs, energy security, and a clean environment.

Senator Coons is focusing on innovation and an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to our energy future, including public-private partnerships and a commitment to developing new markets. This will create good-quality jobs across the country, but particularly in Delaware, where we are leading the way in fostering clean energy research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Senator Coons is also working with the rest of our state’s Congressional delegation to ensure that our natural resources are protected in Delaware, in the United States, and around the world, so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. We are blessed in Delaware with lands, waterways, and wildlife that continue to be a source of pride, including our coastal ecosystems and those of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Our state can be a model as we explore innovative solutions to our nation’s energy needs while also leading the way through environmental stewardship.

Senator Coons’ energy, innovation, and environment priorities include

  • Supporting clean energy solutions. Senator Coons believes we must invest in an all-of-the-above energy strategy that includes clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, and fuel cells, and advanced biofuels that do not put the environment at risk. As we invest in growing a 21st century advanced manufacturing economy, we must focus as well on investing in basic research through incentivizing clean energy manufacturing, an area where Delaware is already an early leader. Senator Coons believes we should support exploration and production in the regions that are currently open for oil and gas but has concerns about expanding that into the Atlantic. He strongly supports developing offshore alternative energy, including new offshore wind projects as well as marine and hydrokinetic technologies in the future.

  • Leveling the playing field for financing clean energy projects. Innovative new energy technologies deserve to be supported by pioneering new financing tools. Senator Coons introduced the bipartisan Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act with Senator Moran to help level the playing field for clean energy projects and bring waves of new capital off the sidelines. His legislation allows clean energy projects to utilize the same innovative financing currently available to the oil and gas sector.

  • Expanding opportunities for energy efficiency and encouraging the federal government to use energy wisely. Senator Coons understands the multiple benefits that energy efficiency can provide. He has championed bipartisan solutions to spur energy efficiency deployment, leading the reauthorization of the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Programs with Senator Collins and co-sponsoring the Shaheen/Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2015. He has also worked with Senator Gardner on the Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnerships Act of 2015, which encourages the federal government to use energy more efficiently and purchase clean energy resources, helping the environment and saving taxpayers money as energy costs are reduced.

  • Supporting basic science research. While clean energy projects will be launched and jobs will be created by the private sector, Senator Coons understands that the federal government has an important role to play promoting innovative policies to bring new technologies from early stage development to commercial production. This is why he worked with Senator Alexander to reauthorize investments in basic science and technology through cutting-edge programs such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy (ARPA-E) and the Department of Energy’s science research programs. He is also a strong supporter of the America COMPETES legislation and hopes Congress will reauthorize it in the near future.

  • Moving ideas from the lab to market. Investments in basic research are only the first step toward building a clean energy future. Technology transfer and commercialization of that basic research is also critical. This is why Senator Coons worked with Senator Rubio to introduce the America INNOVATES Act, which gives the United States’ world-renowned national lab system more tools to partner with the private sector to bring innovative technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace.

  • Promoting open science and interaction with the federal government. Senator Coons has championed efforts for citizen scientists to aid federal research through his introduction of the Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act, cosponsored by Senator Daines. This bill authorizes agencies to use open-innovation tools to advance their missions by harnessing the expertise, ingenuity, and creativity of the American public to contribute to innovation and help solve societal or technical problems. Encouraging and increasing the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science methods within the federal government will advance and accelerate scientific research, literacy, and diplomacy.

  • Bringing alternative chemicals to market while also improving our current chemical regulatory system. As a trained chemist,Senator Coonsis a proud champion of both chemistry innovation and responsible chemicals management. He introduced the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act with Senator Collins, which will help advance research and development, commercialization, education and training, and industry-academic partnerships in sustainable chemistry. He also believes it is important to provide certainty and predictability around chemicals regulation, which is why he was an original cosponsor of a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act.

  • Preparing for climate change. Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing our nation and the world. To mitigate its impact, Senator Coons believes that we must act quickly to reduce the amount of global warming gases released into the atmosphere, while also ensuring that our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions provide opportunities for economic growth and do not stifle investment, innovation, and job creation. As the lowest, average state in the country, Delaware also needs to prepare for and adapt to the consequences of climate change that local communities are already experiencing, such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather events. We must continue taking steps to strengthen our resilience and reduce the costly impacts of droughts, storms, and flooding in our communities.

  • Protecting endangered species and preventing wildlife poaching and trafficking. Senator Coons understands the intrinsic value and beauty of our wildlife and ecosystems. He is also working to protect wildlife at home and abroad and is deeply concerned with the high levels of wildlife poaching seen across the African continent and the implications this criminal activity has for security and stability, biodiversity conservation, economic development, and the future growth of African nations. With Senator Flake, Senator Coons introduced the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act, legislation that would provide a comprehensive solution to the wildlife trafficking crisis.

  • Advancing the Michael N. Castle Trail at the C&D Canal. The Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal is bordered by a stretch of flat, uninterrupted land, creating a unique and safe environment for recreationists. Former Congressman Mike Castle saw these assets as an ideal opportunity to enhance the canal’s existing resources by adding a recreational trail. Senator Coons has worked tirelessly since he came to the Senate to make Congressman Castle’s vision a reality. In honor of Congressman Castle’s long-time support of trails in Delaware, Senator Coons and the delegation dedicated the trail to him, naming it the “Michael N. Castle Trail at the C&D Canal." The Delaware section's north side of the Trail will be finished in early summer and the Maryland section of the trail was completed in late 2015.

  • Promoting conservation and our sportsmen’s heritage. Senator Coons is a leading advocate for conservation programs that help protect wildlife and habitat, water quality, open space on agricultural lands, and access for hunters, fishermen, and other recreationists. Along with Senator Carper, he is working to preserve the health of the Delaware River watershed through the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. He is a cosponsor of legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which provides funds to protect land and waterways of state and national importance, and strongly supported a successful three-year extension of LWCF. At the urging of groups like Ducks Unlimited and their thousands of members in Delaware, he supported increasing the Duck Stamp fee, which will provide greater revenue for conservation programs that protect wildlife habitat across the country. He also supports funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which supports partnership efforts to protect habitat for waterfowl, fish, and wildlife, and introduced legislation with Senator Wicker to extend funding for State wildlife conservation and restoration programs. Further, he knows that farmers are some of our best stewards of the land, and has been a defender of USDA conservation programs funded through the Farm Bill. In addition to public conservation programs, Senator Coons knows that private individuals and conservation groups have a critical role to play in conserving our lands and open space.

  • Supporting the First State’s public lands. Senator Coons was proud to celebrate the creation of the First State National Monument in April 2013 as the 400th national park and the first in Delaware. The new monument commemorates the diverse history of the state and its role in the birth of the nation. Further, Delaware’s two National Wildlife Refuges – Bombay Hook in Kent County and Prime Hook in Sussex County – support thriving ecosystems and draw 200,000 hunters, fishermen, hikers and nature enthusiasts annually. Senator Coons supports the National Wildlife Refuge system and the important role that refuges play in sustaining our natural resources and economy.