Several Republicans in the U.S. Senate have been busy of late introducing bills that could unlock a great deal of clean energy potential in the coming years—efforts that would help create jobs, strengthen national security, and address climate change. The recent legislation has focused on energy storage, natural gas, and biomass.
Most experts agree that the next generation of clean energy will require breakthroughs in energy storage to optimize grid-wide use of diverse energy resources. In 2017, the U.S. deployed 431 megawatts of energy storage across sectors, but this only scratches the surface.
Fortunately, the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Martha McSally of Arizona. The BEST Act would expand the commercialization capabilities of advanced grid-scale storage and other breakthrough technologies by providing new funding for research and development while helping to align research efforts on energy storage technologies.
Senator Collins, in particular, has a long track record of standing up for the best energy options and is a past CRES Clean Energy Champion, and the last few weeks have certainly reaffirmed that. In addition to speaking on the BEST Act, she introduced a complementary bill, the Promoting Grid Storage Act, which was also supported by Senator Gardner, that would further boost research and development energy storage capabilities with $1.05 billion in funding for public and private grants and pilot programs.
Another bill she helped introduce would allow the use of biomass from certain federal and non-federal lands to meet the definition of renewable energy under by the Renewable Fuel Standard. This would promote healthier forests, more carbon sequestration, and cleaner transportation fuels.
Meanwhile, Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana put forth the Launching Energy Advancement and Development through Innovations for Natural Gas (LEADING) Act, which is intended to support the research and development of carbon capture technology to help the proliferation of natural gas, a resource that has played a significant role in America’s newfound energy independence as well as emissions reductions that past few decades.
Natural gas has been booming over the last few years. Now it’s the main energy source in the nation. In 2017, the U.S. was the largest natural gas producer in the world. American workers extracted nearly 735 billion cubic meters of natural gas in total.
As the industry continues to grow, lawmakers and business leaders have focused in on ways to make natural gas a more efficient energy source. By leveraging advanced carbon capture technology in natural gas-fired power plants, the entire operation becomes cheaper and cleaner.
Although the carbon emissions from using natural gas is 50 to 60 percent lower than that of traditional fuel sources, the U.S. natural gas industry still leaves a big footprint. In 2017, almost 30 percent of carbon emissions in the U.S. came from natural gas. The LEADING Act will do even more to reduce the footprint of natural gas-fired power plants, as they continue to proliferate and outpace their coal-fired counterparts, and it will help the further development of renewable energy by offsetting those any gaps in power generation from renewable sources.
Republicans continue to lead on clean energy policy. CRES applauds the hard work of Senators Cassidy, Collins, Cornyn, Gardner, and McSally.