Growing The Clean Energy Economy
As a senior member of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, I have advocated for a balanced approach that protects our health, conserves our natural resources, and moves our nation towards energy independence. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I have been the leading Democratic voice on major investigations, including reviewing the solar loan guarantee program, examining the potential health and safety threats of hydraulic fracturing, and ensuring critical EPA protections do not fall victim to political gamesmanship. As a fourth-generation Coloradoan, I have been guided by traditional Western values and have fought for common-sense conservation and the responsible development of domestic energy resources.
INVESTING IN RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
As a member of the Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I recognize our long-term energy security requires a commitment to renewable energy and have advocated for targeted investments in wind, solar, hydro, and other sustainable forms of energy that will secure good paying jobs, our energy future, and our nation’s ability to compete in the 21st century economy.
In 2013, I co-authored the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (HREA) with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), which will facilitate the development of small hydropower and conduit projects. For a state like Colorado, and indeed the entire nation, this legislation expands renewable and affordable hydropower – far and away our nation’s largest source of clean energy – and will create good jobs for American families.
In August 2013, President Obama signed Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act into law, after passing both the House and Senate with unanimous support.
In November 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the Silverton-based San Juan County Historical Society’s proposed 11 kilowatt small hydro project. The project qualifies for exclusion from federal permitting requirements under the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act.
I am so proud that one of the first small hydro projects in the nation to benefit from my legislation is happening right here in Colorado, helping to create jobs in our state, and demonstrating the impact of smarter, more efficient hydropower project permitting. For Colorado and the nation, this law is already delivering tangible results by expanding renewable and affordable hydropower and creating good jobs for American families. This bipartisan effort will continue our nation on the path to clean energy leadership and help get Americans back to work.
RESPONSIBLE NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT
Natural gas is critical for our nation’s path towards energy independence. As a member of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, I am committed to enhancing efforts to promote the responsible development of natural gas. In each Congress since 2008, I have introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (FRAC Act), a bipartisan bill that establishes common sense safeguards to protect groundwater from risks associated with the oil and gas drilling technique “hydraulic fracturing,” better known as “fracking.” The FRAC Act would require disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids and would remove the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
As we recognize the need for energy independence and clean tech innovations to power our nation, natural gas is an important economic driver; but we must ensure the process for extracting natural gas is done safely and responsibly. As fracking operations expand, many have increasingly recognized that we need common-sense legislation to ensure the economic benefits of natural gas do not come at the expense of the health and safety of families and communities. The FRAC Act would remove the patchwork of different state regulations that the industry currently has to try and comply with, and would set up a consistent and effective system to safeguard fracking operations. As we witness America’s natural gas boom, a reasonable, common-sense framework of regulations at the federal level can help us protect our health and our environment, without standing in the way of the economic and energy benefits fracking can provide us all.
To address these concerns in a reasonable way, the FRAC Act would:
- Require disclosure of the chemical constituents used in the fracturing process.
- Disclosure would be to the state, or to EPA, but only if EPA has primary enforcement responsibility in the state. The disclosures would then be made available to the public online.
- Proprietary chemical formulas are protected under our bill – much like the way Coca-Cola must reveal the ingredients of Coke, but not their secret formula; oil and gas companies would have to reveal the chemicals but not the specific formula.
- This bill does include an emergency provision that requires these proprietary chemical formulas to be disclosed to a treating physician, the State, or EPA in emergency situations where the information is needed to provide medical treatment.
- Repeal a provision added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempting the industry from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), one of our landmark environmental and public health protection statutes.
- Most states have primacy over these types of wells, and the intent of this Act is to allow states to ensure that our drinking water is safe. EPA would set the standard, but a state would be able to incorporate hydraulic fracturing into the existing permitting process for each well, and so this would not require any new permitting process.