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Energy & Sustainability Washington Updates - August 2018


Senate Hearing on DOE Reorganization

In response to the president’s March 2017 executive order directing federal agencies to examine their structures and find ways to be less wasteful, reduce inefficiencies, and improve accountability, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on July 19 titled “Reorganization and Modernization Proposals for DOE and DOI” with testimony from Ms. Susan Combs, Senior Advisor, Department of the Interior, and Mr. Bernard McNamee, Executive Director, Office of Policy, Department of Energy. Referring to DOE, in her opening remarks committee chair Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) said that she appreciates the department’s “efforts to remove institutional barriers that hamper our efforts to achieve a cleaner, cheaper, more diverse, and more secure energy future.” Representing DOE, Mr. McNamee stated that the department is proposing to 1) streamline Environmental Management headquarters organization, 2) consolidate the various international affairs offices into the Office of International Affairs, 3) merge Human Resources service centers, and 4) restructure the Office of Science to improve efficiency and reduce cost.

Senate DOE Nominations Hearing

On July 24, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider the nominations of Ms. Teri L. Donaldson to serve as DOE’s Inspector General; Ms. Karen S. Evans to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response); Dr. Christopher Fall to be Director of the Office of Science; and Mr. Daniel Simmons to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy).

House Hearing on Strategic Petroleum Reserve

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on July 25 on “DOE Modernization: Legislation to Authorize a Pilot Project to Commercialize the Strategic Petroleum Reserve” with testimony from Mr. Steven Winberg, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy, DOE; Mr. Kevin Book, Managing Director, ClearView Energy Partners, LLC; Mr. Daniel Evans, Project Manager, Fluor Federal Petroleum Operations; and Mr. Frank Russo, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office. A subcommittee background memo can be found here.

New Energy Legislation

S. 3133, the Solar Farm Fairness Act, was introduced by Sen. Harris (D-CA) on June 26. The bill would amend the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to clarify certain requirements relating to solar electric power generation projects.

S. 3115, the Rural HOMES Act, was introduced by Sen. Merkley (D-OR) on June 21. The bill would amend the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to extend and modify the rural energy savings program. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Smith (D-MN) and Wyden (D-OR).

Executive Branch

DOE to Fund SBIR/STTR Research and Development Projects

The DOE is awarding 95 grants totaling $95 million to 80 small businesses in 26 states through the department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for Phase 2 research and development. More information on the awards can be found here.

Funding for High Energy Physics Research

The DOE is providing $75 million in funding for 77 university research awards on a range of topics in high energy physics to advance knowledge of how the universe works at its most fundamental level. The projects are at 59 universities and cover a range of topics including the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter, dark energy, and the search for new physics. The list of projects and more information can be found here.

New National Labs Partnering Service

The DOE has launched a new Lab Partnering Service (LPS), an online, single-access-point platform for investors, innovators, and institutions to identify, locate, and obtain information from DOE’s 17 national laboratories. The LPS has three parts: 1) Access to top national lab researchers to allow investors and innovators to connect with relevant subject matter experts and receive unbiased and noncompetitive technical assessments; 2) Direct access to pre-validated and ready to license and commercialize technologies; and 3) An online research and visualization database tool for patents associated with DOE laboratories. Information about the LPS, including how to use the suite of online tools, can be found here.

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Thomas R. Burton, III

Member / Chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Tom Burton has helped to shape the clean energy industry by drawing on his passion for innovation. As a Mintz attorney, Tom counsels investors, entrepreneurs, and Fortune 100 companies. He also guides start-up organizations and accelerators to foster the next generation of energy leaders.

Sahir Surmeli

Member / Co-chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice

Sahir Surmeli is a Mintz business counselor who advises companies, boards, entrepreneurs, investment banks, and venture and private equity investors as they build and grow companies. He handles public offerings, 144A and private financings, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic partnerships.