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Energy & Sustainability Washington Updates – March 2019

Senate Energy Hearings

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently held a number of energy-related hearings.

  • On February 7, the committee held a hearing to examine the current status and future of energy innovation in the United States with testimony from Department of Energy (DOE) Under Secretary of Science Paul Dabbar, former DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, and representatives from the Bipartisan Policy Center, ClearPath, the Council on Competitiveness, and West Virginia University.
  • The committee held a hearing on February 15 to examine the status and outlook of efforts to protect energy infrastructure from cyber threats and attacks. The committee heard testimony from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Neil Chatterjee; Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) Karen Evans; and representatives from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the West Virginia National Guard, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL). Committee Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) intends to make cybersecurity a priority for the 116th Congress.
  • A hearing was held on February 28 to examine prospects for global energy markets, including the role of the United States from the perspective of the International Energy Agency (IEA) with testimony from IEA Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol.

Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, has introduced the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act. The legislation would reauthorize and expand the Department of Energy’s Office of Minority Economic Impact to improve the education of underrepresented groups for employment in energy-related industries, including manufacturing, engineering, construction, and retrofitting jobs. Specifically, it would direct assistance to educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and workforce development boards; establish a grant program to help eligible businesses pay for employees to receive renewable energy and energy efficiency training; and establish a clearinghouse of information and resources for those seeking energy-related jobs.

The Subcommittee held a hearing on February 27 titled “Clean Energy Infrastructure and the Workforce to Build It” that focused on the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act.

Clean and Efficient Cars Act

Twenty House Energy and Commerce Committee democrats, led by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), have introduced legislation to override the Trump administration’s plans to roll back vehicle GHG emissions standards. The Clean and Efficient Cars Act would codify the EPA emissions rules issued by the Obama administration in 2012 as well as related fuel efficiency rules issued by the Transportation Department. The Trump administration proposed last summer to freeze U.S. Department of Transportation efficiency standards after 2020 and reduce the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions standards to match DOT’s. The legislation would also prohibit EPA from weakening auto GHG standards through the 2025 model year including by “revising the trading, transferring, availability, or creation of credits.” The bill is expected to be considered amid a broader push on climate change and move to the full chamber. However, it faces a challenge in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Offshore Wind for Territories Act

Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate authorizing offshore wind energy development in the exclusive economic zone adjacent to U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Current law prohibits the lease of areas offshore U.S. territories for renewable energy development. The Offshore Wind for Territories Act was introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Reps. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico) and Gregorio Sablan (D-Mariana Islands). The legislation guarantees that territories will receive a state-equivalent share of all royalty payments made to the federal government by offshore wind developers for projects in their Exclusive Economic Zone. This amounts to 37.5 percent of qualifying revenues, consistent with the revenue-sharing structure established for Gulf Coast states under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).

DOE Names Members of Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

Secretary of Energy Perry has announced the first members of his Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), the first of multiple installments of the board. The first round of members named include Norman Augustine, retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation; David Dewhurst, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO, Falcon Seaboard; Vicki Hollub, President & CEO, Occidental Petroleum; David Lockwood, former Chairman & CEO, Energy Solutions, Inc.; Richard Mies, Admiral U.S. Navy (Ret.); Pedro Pizarro, President & CEO, Edison International; Dr. Samantha Ravhich, Chair of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; and Dr. Daniel Yergin, Vice Chairman, HIS Markit. Ms. Hollub and Admiral Mies will serve as Chair and Vice Chair of SEAB, respectively.

Argonne National Laboratory Home to New Battery Recycling Center

Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Daniel Simmons has announced the opening of a Battery Recycling Center at Argonne National Laboratory with the goal of reclaiming and recycling critical materials (e.g., cobalt and lithium) from lithium-based battery technology. The center will focus on cost-effective recycling processes to recover as much economic value as possible from spent lithium-ion batteries.


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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.