Barrasso Emphasizes Need for American Energy Innovation

“Whether we’re talking about oil and gas permitting, or utilities, or carbon capture, or nuclear power, we must engineer our way to American energy solutions.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor about multiple pieces of legislation he’s introduced to modernize our nation’s energy laws.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“I come to the floor to discuss my continued efforts to modernize our nation’s energy laws.

“Since my arrival in 2007 in the Senate, I have worked here in the Senate on pro-growth energy policies. 

“My goal has always been to protect workers, to promote American energy, and to provide for innovation.

“Today the United States is the world’s top energy producer. We are the global leaders in oil as well as natural gas.

“Still, the energy sector is evolving at a fast clip. We need to stay ahead of the curve to stay on top.

“And so our laws should reflect this changing reality.

“The key of course is innovation.

“That’s why I’m constantly talking with folks in the industry, people back home in Wyoming, taking the pulse.

“I listen to the workers in coal mines and oilfields of Campbell County, to the researchers at the labs in the University of Wyoming. And what we discuss are things like the best practices.

“Issues like:

“How can we streamline energy permitting?

“How can we speed research?

“How can we ensure safety and protect the environment?

“My point is, you need to know the situation on the ground.

“That’s how we need to make sure that energy laws make sense. Knowing what’s happening on the ground.

“And I have proposed practical reforms that reflect that reality.

“I recently offered legislation to modernize the federal electricity law.

“It’s called the UPDATE PURPA Act.

“PURPA refers to the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act.

“Senators Risch, Senator Cramer and Senator Daines are original cosponsors of this UPDATE PURPA law.

“Principally, we want to protect families from inflated electric bills.

“You see, people in Wyoming and related states are overpaying.

“That’s because PURPA requires state utilities to purchase renewable power. And then pay above-market rates to do it.

“They have to buy it, even when their customers do not need it. And that’s the problem.

“Forty years after that law was passed, in 1978, fast forward, here we are forty-one years later, clearly it has outlived its purpose.

“The law’s original intent was to diversify power sources. And it certainly succeeded.

“Wind and solar power now provide about 9 percent of the electricity in this country. 9 percent wind and solar.

“The fact is, renewable power technology has improved rapidly. So we no longer need to micromanage these purchases.

“Consumers should not continue to overpay for electricity due to outdated rules, regulations, and laws.

“UPDATE PURPA would solve this problem. It protects electricity customers from added costs. It frees state utilities from unnecessary mandates to buy power. And it helps develop all energy sources, including renewable energy.

“I’m also working to pass a bill called the USE IT Act. It stands for Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies.

“This bipartisan bill, the USE IT Act, would help researchers find commercial uses for captured carbon dioxide emissions.

“The research is already happening in Wyoming. It’s taking place outside Gillette in the Integrated Test Center.

“The USE IT Act will further this effort.

“It will apply our nation’s brightest minds to take carbon from the air, to capture it from the air, to trap it, and to transform it into valuable products.

“Captured carbon can be used to extract oil from wells, wells that otherwise would not be profitable.

“It can also be used to make building materials and carbon fiber. It can be used for medical purposes.

“In addition, I’m working to promote nuclear energy.

“Nuclear power is safe. It is reliable. And it is carbon-free.

“Today it provides 60 percent of America’s carbon-free electricity.

“It’s by far our largest carbon-free source. And it is doubling the wind and solar in terms of the total that we get from wind and solar.

“We’ve already made major progress on advanced nuclear technology because earlier this year we passed a bipartisan nuclear bill called the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act. And that became law, signed into law.

“This bill now law will ensure that we remain a leader in nuclear innovation.

“It will simplify the process for licensing and for developing advanced reactors.

“This progress will help increase our use of carbon-free energy.

“And we need all the energy. We need the renewable energy. We need the nuclear energy. We need the oil, and the gas, and the coal. We need all of it.

“And we must, of course, address our nuclear waste problem.

“Now, that’s why I have fought to complete the licensing of the storage facility at Yucca Mountain.

“I recently chaired a committee hearing on this draft proposal.

“As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal: ‘The lack of progress on Yucca Mountain has become a roadblock for nuclear power in America.’

“Both parties want Americans to use more carbon-free energy. So both parties should embrace sensible, scientific solutions.

“Another energy issue I’m addressing is reforming the process that we use to get permits. To get the permission to explore for energy to use our resources.

“Earlier this year, I introduced a bill called the ONSHORE Act. It stands for Opportunities for the Nation and States to Harness Onshore Resources for Energy.

“The ONSHORE Act will simplify the federal onshore oil and gas permitting process.

“Whether we’re talking about oil and gas permitting, or utilities, or carbon capture, or nuclear power, we must engineer our way to American energy solutions.

“Commonsense reforms will help the United States stay on top and stay safe at the same time.”