On June 24, Sen. Orrin Hatch and federal lawmakers from the western United States celebrated the launch of the Senate Western Caucus by introducing the Clean, Affordable, and Reliable Energy Act.
The CARE Act is aimed at ensuring that all the energy tools are in place to fuel the United States economy and fix the nation's over-dependence on foreign oil, according to the western senators.
"One of the keys to our nation's greatness has been the availability of abundant affordable energy. It's unfortunate that the Obama administration and leaders in Congress from eastern states want to make affordable energy a thing of the past," said Hatch on Wednesday.Â "We're here to counter that effort."
The Utah senator indicated that he agrees with the administration's push for ethanol as a vehicle fuel along with solar and wind as sources of electricity.
However, Hatch said he differed with the apparent desire to shut down existing energy sources.
"Ethanol has major land use, water and other environmental constraints and solar and wind are both very intermittent and can never take the place of our need for baseload power generation," commented the Utah senator.
One goal of the Senate Western Caucus is to thwart the anti-oil agenda in Washington, D.C., while promoting alternative energy.
"We call ourselves the Senate Western Caucus because we represent good western values and we need to underscore the common beliefs Utahns share with our neighbors," pointed out Hatch. "However, we're really fighting for all Americans who pump gas into their car, turn on the lights at home, or want to feed their children healthy, affordable meals. That's really what our agenda comes down to."
According to the Utah senator, the CARE Act:
â¢Establishes a trust fund to promote the development of renewable and alternative energy, paid for by revenues from new oil and gas exploration.
â¢Eliminates barriers to the expansion of nuclear power production by promoting the recycling of spent fuel and providing incentives for capacity development.
â¢Authorizes the U.S. Department of Defense to enter into multiyear contracts for procurement of synthetic fuels and repeals section 526 of EISA 2007 to allow the federal government to procure advanced alternative fuels.
â¢Extends tax incentives for alternative fuel and for new plug-in vehicles.
â¢Harnesses the strong work ethic and creative ingenuity of the American people by training domestic energy workforce and encouraging scientific and technologic advancements through education.
â¢Provides funding for research grants at institutions of higher learning to support programs in energy and engineering.Â
â¢Provides funding for merit-based scholarships for individuals pursuing degrees in energy-related fields.
Examples include chemical or mineral engineering field, petroleum geology or alternative and renewable energy.
â¢Provides funding for the operation and/or development of energy-related programs at community colleges.
â¢Increases the supply of American-made energy by enabling the United States to responsibly explore and develop the nation's oil and gas resources.
â¢Fosters the development of U.S. energy infrastructure to make our energy supply more affordable and reliable and to provide a path for a cleaner energy future tomorrow.
â¢Grants preferential tax treatment to bonds used to pay for construction of vital parts of our nation's energy infrastructure.
â¢Extends the exemption from the renewable fuel standard for small refineries for an additional four years.
â¢Streamlines the regulatory process and improve accountability to ensure government bureaucracy doesn't stand in the way of American energy reliability and security.
â¢Prevents the misuse of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act for regulating greenhouse gases.
â¢Removes unnecessary bureaucratic red-tape by streamlining the NEPA process and related judicial proceedings for any reviews necessary to carry out the bill.
â¢Establishes an Alaska Offshore Continental Shelf Coordination Office to streamline the leasing process.
â¢Makes the mineral management service director a Senate-confirmed position.
â¢Promotes energy conservation and efficiency through incentives for energy efficient homes and buildings .
The bill also takes steps to ensure government regulations do not discourage repairs and maintenance that improve efficiency.
â¢Encourages conservation through tax incentives for energy efficient homes and buildings.Â
The legislative proposal also extends tax credits for using energy efficient appliances and making energy efficient upgrades to existing homes.
â¢Facilitates investment in cleaner technologies at existing facilities by clarifying that routine maintenance and repair shall not constitute a modification of an existing source requiring compliance with new source review requirements under the Clean Air Act.Â
Along with Hatch, the current co-sponsors of the bill and western caucus members include Senators Bob Bennett of Utah, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Crapo of Idaho, David Vitter of Louisiana, Jim Risch of Idaho and Mike Enzi of Wyoming.