“I was proud to support this bipartisan energy bill, both for its good substance and for the good-faith bipartisan process that led to its passage today,” Kaine said. “I was pleased to have sponsored several provisions of the bill including the permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act. I also appreciated the support of my colleagues in including other amendments of mine in the final bill text. Democrats and Republicans were able to put aside the areas where they disagree and instead find common ground on commonsense ideas that both sides support. I hope this outbreak of cooperation in the Senate will become a regular occurrence in the future.”
The Energy Policy Modernization Act implements cost-saving and pollution-reducing energy efficiency incentives for data centers, residential buildings, schools, federal buildings, consumer appliances, vehicles and advanced manufacturing.
It authorizes Department of Energy grants to cover career skills training programs that help students earn industry certifications for installation of energy-efficient equipment. It gives the Department of Energy emergency authority to protect the bulk power system from cyber threats and to respond quickly in the event of a cyber breach.
It also reauthorizes the America COMPETES high tech science and energy research programs, such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
Kaine sponsored several original bills that were included the final legislation passed today and advocated strongly for the following issues addressed by this bill:
- Permanent reauthorization of LWCF. The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which temporarily expired last year. Kaine is a cosponsor of legislation to not only reauthorize LWCF but require that it be fully funded each year. The program is routinely funded at only a third of the amount available to it from offshore drilling royalties. Over its history, LWCF has supported some $284 million in land conservation in Virginia.
- National Park Service maintenance. The bill establishes a National Park Service Critical Maintenance Conservation Fund to address approximately $6 billion in deferred maintenance needs at national parks across the nation. Kaine is striving to visit each of Virginia’s National Park Service units in 2016 to commemorate the NPS Centennial and to draw attention to its maintenance backlog. Last Congress, he introduced a bill to eliminate NPS entrance fees for the number of days that National Parks were shuttered due to the government shutdown.
- Sportsmen’s provisions. The bill contains numerous provisions supporting public lands access for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting from the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, which Kaine sponsored. Among other things, the bill includes grant programs that facilitate proven successful partnerships between sportsmen and conservation groups to revitalize fish habitats and wetlands critical to migratory birds.
- LNG exports. A provision giving the Department of Energy a 45-day deadline to make final decisions on liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications, ensuring that decisions are made in a timely manner. Kaine sponsored this original bill, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, alongside Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
In addition to sponsoring several original bills whose texts were included in the final bill, the Senate also adopted four Virginia-specific Kaine amendments as part of the final bill package:
- An amendment adding provisions of a bipartisan bill sponsored by Kaine and Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to create an energy and maritime workforce grant program at the Department of Energy. Institutions in coastal communities such as Tidewater Community College will be eligible for grants through this program to cultivate local workforces for job opportunities in the maritime industry as well as new energy sectors like offshore wind.
- An amendment authorizing construction of a restroom facility on the site of the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima) in Arlington, as part of a regional effort to improve public accessibility of sites on or around the National Mall.
- An amendment resolving a land-use issue that had held up building repairs in Rockingham County at the Plains Area Day Care in the Town of Broadway. Kaine introduced legislation to address this issue as a companion to House legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
- An amendment extending licenses for hydroelectric projects at Flannagan Dam in Dickenson County and Gathright Dam in Alleghany County. The House of Representatives also passed this provision, sponsored by U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA).