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Thune: Bipartisan Legislation Will Advance American Energy Innovation

“I look forward to working with colleagues of both parties to advance this bill and help secure America’s energy future.”

March 3, 2020

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the American Energy Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation that focuses on enhancing energy storage and investing in a wide range of clean energy technologies. It also focuses on advanced nuclear research that will help the United States regain its edge in the use of this clean energy technology. The bill contains measures from more than 60 senators focused on energy innovation, workforce development, and the security of our energy grid.

Click here to watch Thune’s speech.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, we’re in a pretty good place in this country right now when it comes to energy.

“Our energy supply is abundant, and energy prices are generally affordable.

“But we can’t afford to become complacent.

“We’re in a good place right now because of American innovation, and because we took steps to expand our domestic energy supply and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

“If we want to keep American energy affordable and abundant, we need to make sure we stay on the cutting edge of energy innovation and continue to invest in our domestic energy supply – from oil and natural gas to renewable energy sources like hydropower and wind.

“We also need to make sure we stay on top of threats to our energy grid and our energy security.

“Our colleagues at the Energy Committee have spent a lot of time over the past months working on these issues.

“And yesterday we voted to move forward on bipartisan energy legislation put forward by Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Joe Manchin.

“The bill they’ve put together – the American Energy Innovation Act – contains measures from more than 60 senators focused on energy innovation (particularly clean energy innovation), workforce development, and the security of our energy grid.

“The American Energy Innovation Act invests in a wide range of clean energy technologies, from wind and solar to hydropower and geothermal.

“It also focuses on improving energy storage.

“Many modern clean-energy technologies are intermittent or lack the reliability of traditional electric sources.

“The amount of energy produced from wind, for example, is dependent on the amount of wind on any given day, so it must be backed up by a traditional plant – often powered by natural gas.

“Creating new ways to store clean energy will allow us to increase our reliance on renewable energy sources.

“The American Energy Innovation Act also focuses on improving research into carbon capture, and it directs the establishment of a research and development program to identify ways to use captured carbon.

“The bill also invests in advanced nuclear energy research, so we can regain our edge in the use of this clean-energy technology.

“I plan to introduce amendments to the legislation to review where we can boost hydropower in the upper Missouri River Basin and develop ways to recycle the windmill blades used in wind energy generation.

“Nearly half the electricity generated in South Dakota is from hydroelectric, and we should explore building off these investments through re-powering existing dams and adding power generation to those without.

“Mr. President, in addition to clean energy and innovation, the Energy Committee’s legislation focuses on boosting the security of our electric grid. 

“Our electric grid is the subject of a steady stream of cyberattacks, some of which could have devastating consequences.

“It’s not hard to imagine the deadly results of prolonged traffic signal outages or long-term power outages at hospitals or fire stations.

“That’s why the American Energy Innovation Act invests in cybersecurity and grid modernization.

“The act also focuses on improving our domestic supply of some of the key elements and minerals that we rely on for manufacturing everything from computer chips to batteries to defense applications.

“Right now, we have to import too much of these critical minerals from countries like China.

“For the sake of our national security, it’s important that we find ways to identify supplies of these minerals here at home.

“Finally, Mr. President, the American Energy Innovation Act invests in workforce development.

“All the innovative technologies in the world won’t help us if we don’t have the skilled workers to operate and maintain these technologies.

“We need to ensure that while we’re investing in innovation, we’re also investing in the energy workforce of the future.

“Mr. President, this legislation will help ensure we maintain our energy independence for the long term.

“It will boost the security of our electric grid, strengthen our national security, and invest in American workers.

“And it will help pave the way for a clean-energy future.

“This is a good bill, and I hope my colleagues will support it – and not derail this legislation with partisan amendments.

“I know many of my colleagues across the aisle have a keen interest in adding certain energy tax provisions to this bill.

“I would remind them, however, that last summer the Senate Finance Committee created a number of task forces to examine expiring and expired tax policies.

“I co-led the energy task force along with the senior senator from Michigan.

“And many of the energy tax items we reviewed were included in the year-end bill in December.

“But others were not yet ready for prime time.

“I am eager to continue to work with my colleagues on advancing American energy innovation – as this bill will do – but we have to be realistic about the fact that a number of the energy tax proposals in question are not yet ready for implementation, and need to be considered in the context of other reforms and corrections to the tax code.

“As I said, I hope debate over tax provisions or other amendments will not delay passage of this bipartisan legislation.

“I look forward to working with colleagues of both parties to advance this bill and help secure America’s energy future.”