Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Pallone & Rush Highlight Clean Energy and Pipeline Safety Wins in Omnibus

Dec 21, 2020
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) released the following joint statement today after the House of Representatives passed its end of year omnibus package, which included the Energy Act of 2020 and the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2020:

“The energy provisions in this year’s omnibus make long-overdue reforms and authorize sweeping investments that will help transition the country to a clean, low-carbon future. This legislation includes programs to develop and deploy renewable energy, improve the efficiency of our homes and businesses, modernize the grid, reduce carbon pollution from industrial and traditional power sources, and more. Importantly, it also includes the PIPES Act, which will protect our communities by making our pipelines more secure, help us combat climate change by mandating the repair of methane leaks, and rebalance the law in favor of people and the environment instead of corporations and profits. Taken together, these measures are a tremendous step toward combating the climate crisis and rebuilding our economy.”

The Energy Act of 2020 includes several key energy priorities that:

  • Support the transition to a low-carbon economy by investing in clean energy, distributed energy resources, energy storage systems, and microgrids – all of which are crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Bring clean, reliable energy to marginalized communities, including $75 million for grants to deploy energy storage and microgrids in rural communities;
  • Authorize $1.73 billion over five years for the popular Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income energy efficiency retrofits, which will result in approximately 300,000 units receiving weatherization services;
  • Ensure workers are paid good, prevailing wages for the first time in five programs: solar, wind, water power, grid modernization, and carbon removal research and development;
  • Support energy efficiency in federal buildings by codifying the Federal Energy Management Program;
  • Support energy and water sustainability by enabling the Department of Energy (DOE) and other agencies to coordinate and conduct research, development, and demonstration to consider the use of water in energy systems and use of energy in water extraction and treatment; and
  • Reform DOE’s long-dormant Title XVII Loan program to unlock $23.9 billion in existing loan guarantee authority for projects that deploy innovative emission-reducing technologies and pay prevailing wages for workers.

The omnibus also includes the PIPES Act of 2020, which reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) pipeline safety program through fiscal year 2023. The PIPES Act of 2020 includes critical provisions which:

  • For the first time in 25 years, begins to roll back industry-friendly provisions embedded in current law that make it more difficult for PHMSA to protect people, property and the environment;
  • Requires the immediate repair of any existing or future methane leaks, significantly curbing how much of the potent greenhouse gas gets emitted into the atmosphere;
  • Requires natural gas pipeline operators to undertake advanced leak detection and repair programs, further helping to curtail greenhouse gases and combating the climate crisis;
  • Provides greater resources to state and local pipeline safety officials, as well as community groups seeking technical assistance;
  • Directs PHMSA to update its current regulations for large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities while increasing civil penalties for violators;
  • Requires updates to inspection and maintenance plans for covered pipeline operators to identify ways to minimize leaks and require PHMSA to study ways to update regulations to minimize natural gas releases; and
  • Improves statutory protections for whistleblowers.