April 20, 2016

Energy Bill Includes Hirono Amendments To Expand Energy Workforce Programs, Strike Derogatory Language In Federal Law

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy Central In Senate’s Update To Energy Policy

Senator Mazie K. Hirono voted today in support of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, wide-ranging legislation that prioritizes innovation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy investments. If enacted, the Energy Policy Modernization Act would be the most comprehensive update to federal energy law since 2007, and includes several amendments authored by Senator Hirono. S. 2012 overwhelmingly passed the Senate 85-12.

“Since Congress last passed a comprehensive energy bill in 2007, we have seen remarkable progress on the renewable energy and energy efficiency fronts, including Hawaii’s leadership in setting a goal of generating our state’s power from 100% renewable energy sources,” said Senator Hirono. “I’m proud to have shaped this bill as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and to see it through on the Senate floor today with several of my amendments included. Although there are proposals in this bill that I would not have included on their own, the Energy Policy Modernization Act is a true compromise that lays out a path to a clean energy future by prioritizing funding to grow sources of clean energy, updating and protecting our energy infrastructure, and protecting the environment.”

S. 2012 includes Senator Hirono’s amendments to:

  • Ensure that the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia can join Hawaii and other states in participating in a Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, which supports new investments in clean energy projects.
  • Remove offensive terms such as “Oriental” from federal law.
  • Allow veterans, Native Hawaiians, and tribal organizations such as the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to receive priority in participating in energy workforce programs that include training and job placement assistance.

The Energy Policy Modernization Act reflects Senator Hirono’s contributions in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee on electric grid modernization and research and deployment of batteries and other energy storage technologies to help Hawaii achieve its renewable energy goals. The bill advances Senator Hirono’s priorities of strengthening the security of the electric power system from cyber-attacks or extreme weather, and promoting research and development of alternative vehicles and renewable energy sources, such as solar power, bioenergy, and ocean energy.

The legislation also supports federal conservation efforts by making the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent. Over the past 50 years Hawaii has received nearly $200 million in LWCF support to preserve various ecosystems throughout Hawaii. Land acquisitions for Hawaii’s Collaborative Landscape Proposal “Island Forests at Risk,” which were included in both of President Obama’s most recent budgets and are funded by the LWCF, would expand Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, and will benefit from making the LWCF permanent.