July 30, 2015

Energy Committee Adopts Three Warren Amendments Supporting Research to Address High Energy Prices, Improve Energy Efficiency, And Enhance National Security

WASHINGTON, DC - The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources this week adopted three amendments introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as part of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015. The amendments support research efforts to protect against higher domestic energy prices, improve energy efficiency, and enhance national security. Specifically, the amendments authorize a study into the state and regional economic impacts of exported liquefied natural gas (LNG); ask the Department of Energy to conduct a study into cost savings associated with the use of energy efficiency technology in order to increase its use; and support research into critical minerals alternatives in order to help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources.

Study on state and regional economic impacts of exported liquefied natural gas (LNG)

This amendment, which was adopted with bipartisan support in a 13-9 vote, would authorize the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study in consultation with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the National Association of State Energy Officials to evaluate the state, regional, and national economic impact of exporting liquefied natural gas.

"Massachusetts, which relies on natural gas, faces some of the highest energy bills in the nation. As Congress considers making it easier for companies to send American natural gas overseas, we need to be absolutely certain that we aren't raising costs for families and businesses in New England and across the country," Senator Warren said. "This amendment will ensure that as we consider these policy changes, we have the best information available about how these exports might affect consumers, manufacturers, and our economy, particularly in regions like New England that currently import this gas."

Request for DOE study on energy efficiency technology cost savings

This amendment, based on legislation Senator Warren previously introduced with Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and adopted by voice vote, would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to quantify the cost savings from operational energy efficiency technologies in an effort to increase public and private use of these technologies.

"Energy efficiency technologies help protect the environment, save money for companies and taxpayers, and create new jobs," said Senator Warren. "We know this technology works. By documenting its cost savings, this amendment will help facilitate the use of more efficiency tech in both the public and private sectors."

Supporting research into critical minerals research

This amendment, adopted by voice vote, would support research into alternatives to critical minerals, which can help reduce U.S. dependence on unreliable foreign sources of minerals. At an Energy Committee hearing in May, Senator Warren discussed the importance of investing in research into alternatives to critical minerals, highlighting ongoing research by Northeastern University in Boston on substitutes for rare earth minerals used in ultra-strong magnets. Video of the Senator's remarks at that hearing is available here.

"We depend on unreliable foreign sources for many minerals critical to everyday life. Speeding our transition away from these minerals and toward alternatives will enhance our national security and our economy while making sure that we have what we need to continue manufacturing cell phones, computers, clean energy products, and other essential technologies," said Senator Warren. "It's important that we make research in critical mineral alternatives a priority, and this amendment is a good first step toward investing in the people who make that research happen."