Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) issued a statement after President Biden formally approved the Commonwealth of Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration in response to the severe flooding event in Southwest Virginia on July 13, 2022. This declaration triggers the release of Public Assistance in the affected areas, while the Commonwealth’s request for Individual Assistance remains under review.

“We are pleased that the federal government has taken this crucial step to aid recovery efforts in Buchanan and Tazewell counties,” said the lawmakers. “We will continue pushing for Individual Assistance and all resources needed to help residents rebuild following this devastating flooding.”

Today’s announcement comes after Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith urged President Biden to issue a Major Disaster Declaration earlier this month.  

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today made $7 billion available to fund regional clean hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) across the country, which will form a key power source in America's future clean energy economy. As part of the Department’s commitment to accelerating the national deployment of clean hydrogen fuel, DOE also released a draft of the National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap for public feedback. The H2Hubs will be a critical part of the Department’s efforts to helping communities across the country realize the benefits of clean hydrogen and reach President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

“These H2Hubs are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lay the foundation for the hydrogen economy of tomorrow—one that will lift our economy, protect the planet, and improve our health,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With input from America’s brightest scientists, engineers, community organizers, and entrepreneurs, this national hydrogen strategy will help us accelerate the development and deployment of technologies to realize the full potential of clean hydrogen energy for generations to come.”

Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that can be produced from clean, diverse, and domestic energy resources, including wind, solar, and nuclear energy, or by using natural gas (while capturing resulting carbon to reduce emissions). Hydrogen’s flexibility makes it an important component of President Biden’s strategy to achieve a carbon-free grid by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The H2Hubs will be one of the largest investments in DOE history. Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) through the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, they are a critical component of the Administration’s commitment to invest in America’s workforce and support good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join unions, an integral element of building a clean energy economy and curbing climate change. Addressing environmental justice and engaging local communities, particularly historically disadvantaged and underserved communities that have disproportionately borne the brunt of past energy practices, are fundamental priorities of DOE’s approach to developing H2Hubs. Applicant teams are expected to develop community benefits plans to address quality jobs, environmental justice, diversity and equity, and maximize meaningful engagement with disadvantaged communities, labor unions, and other key stakeholders.

For this initial funding opportunity launch, DOE is aiming to select six to ten hubs for a combined total of up to $7 billion in federal funding. Concept papers are due by November 7, 2022, and full applications are due by April 7, 2023. Learn more about DOE’s funding opportunity.

The DOE National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap provides a comprehensive overview of the potential for hydrogen production, transport, storage, and use in the United States and outlines how clean hydrogen can contribute to national decarbonization and economic development goals. This comprehensive strategy, along with guiding principles and concrete actions, A final version of the strategy and roadmap will be released in the coming months and updated at least every three years.

 

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 WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued a statement regarding recently released legislative text for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022:

“Russia’s ongoing illegal war in Ukraine has resulted in extreme shocks to the global energy market. We need increased pipeline capacity in order to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and maintain a strong and resilient domestic energy supply here at home. So protecting our national and economic security is going to require increased pipeline capacity and reforms to our existing permitting process, which is currently too slow and too expensive. That said, I think the process around the Mountain Valley Pipeline stinks. In the coming days, I’m going to work with my colleagues to see if we can’t make some reasonable fixes while we work to keep the government up and running.”

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President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) allocates more than $50 billion to EPA toward repairing the nation’s essential water infrastructure, which helps communities access clean, safe and reliable drinking water, increase resilience, collect and treat wastewater to protect public health, clean up pollution and safeguard vital waterways. These grants will supplement the $35 million in fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding that will be awarded for Virginia’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and mark the first significant distribution of water infrastructure funds thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. State allocations were previously announced.

“All communities need access to clean, reliable, safe water,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership and the resources from the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are repairing aging water infrastructure, replacing lead service lines, cleaning up contaminants, and making our communities more resilient in the face of floods and climate impacts.”

 “Reliable water infrastructure is critical to safeguard public health,” said Sen. Tim Kaine “I was glad to vote to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I’m glad Virginia is receiving federal funding to repair our water systems thanks to this landmark legislation. This funding will help ensure Virginians have access to safe, clean, and reliable water for decades to come.”

 “Access to safe drinking water is critical for the health of all Virginians,” said Sen. Mark Warner. “I am thrilled to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I was proud to help negotiate, deliver much-needed funds to update our water systems and ensure the wellbeing of our communities.”

“President Biden has been clear—we cannot leave any community behind as we rebuild America’s infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu.  “Because of his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, nearly half of the additional SRF funding will now be grants or forgivable loans, making accessing these critical water resources easier for small, rural and disadvantaged communities.”

“Help is on the way to the state of Virginia,” said Adam Ortiz, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator.  “This funding represents ‘delivery on a promise’ that the Biden administration made to help our communities most in need of clean drinking water and programs to control contaminants and harmful stormwater runoff.  EPA Mid-Atlantic looks forward to assisting and partnering with our states to expedite this critical work.”

EPA’s SRFs are part of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits from certain federal programs flow to underserved communities. Furthermore, nearly half the funding available through the SRFs thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law must be grants or principal forgiveness loans that remove barriers to investing in essential water infrastructure in underserved communities across rural America and in urban centers.

Funding announced today represents the FY22 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law awards for states that have submitted and obtained EPA’s approval of their plans for use of the funding. SRF capitalization grants will continue to be awarded, on a rolling state-by-state basis, as more states receive approval throughout FY22; states will also receive awards over the course of the next four years. As grants are awarded, the state SRF programs can begin to distribute the funds as grants and loans to communities across their state.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine reintroduced the Pipeline Fairness, Transparency, and Responsible Development Act, legislation to strengthen the public’s ability to evaluate the impacts of and provide input on natural gas pipelines being considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Communities and landowners who would be impacted by an energy project deserve to have their concerns heard—especially if a green light from FERC means their land would be taken away,” said the Senators. “Our bill would improve the way FERC gathers public input to make sure the public can weigh in on decisions that would literally run through their backyards.”

Congress has given FERC the authority to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks to energy infrastructure proposals. The senators’ legislation would make it easier for the public to offer FERC input and would clarify the circumstances under which eminent domain may be used. The bill would also require public comment meetings to be held in every locality through which a pipeline would pass at every stage of the review process, in order to minimize situations where individuals are forced to commute long distances with very little time to comment.

Additionally, the legislation would strengthen local landowners’ rights by improving the process by which landowners are notified of a pipeline application and bolstering their ability to ensure any concerns about their property are given fair consideration.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Improve the process by which landowners are notified of a potential pipeline project affecting their property;
    • Require that FERC review companies’ notices to landowners to ensure these notices meet FERC criteria;
  • Require that FERC or applicants for a FERC Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (e.g., companies with pipeline proposals) provide clear and complete instructions to all affected landowners on how to request an appeal or “rehearing” through FERC. The notice must make it clear to landowners that they must appeal to FERC in a timely manner for a rehearing to preserve certain rights to seek judicial review;
  • Prevent pipeline projects from exercising eminent domain or commencing construction until:
    • the project has received all requisite permits, certifications, or other permissions required under federal law;
    • FERC has issued rulings on all timely landowner rehearings.
    • except on land that is already owned by the pipeline company or land that is in an existing utility right-of-way;

 

  • State that it is the policy of the United States that eminent domain be limited to situations in which the taking of property for natural gas pipelines is for public, not private, use. This language is modeled after a 2006 Executive Order by President George W. Bush clarifying the scope of federal eminent domain authority;
  • Help ensure fair appraisals and offers of compensation for affected property owners by giving landowners the opportunity to accompany appraisers during the inspection of property in order to provide more oversight over the appraisal process, which must be completed prior to an offer of compensation for that property. That offer of compensation must be of fair market value or better;
  • Require a single programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) if two gas pipelines are proposed within one year and 100 miles of one another, and provide that if there is more information that comes out after a draft EIS than is in a draft EIS, FERC must do a supplemental EIS, with another public comment period;
  • Mandate public comment meetings in every locality through which a pipeline passes, at every stage in the process (draft EIS, final EIS, and supplemental EIS) so members of the public do not have to drive long distances to meetings where they are only able to speak for just a few minutes;
  • Specify that eminent domain takings of land under conservation easement be given fair compensation not just for the land value but for the lost conservation value of the land;
  • Ensure that plans to mitigate unavoidable impacts are subject to public comment so the public can verify that the mitigation is fair and proportionate;
  • Require cumulative analysis of the project’s visual impacts on National Scenic Trails (including the Appalachian Trail) for multiple pipelines that cross the same trail within 100 miles, in order to prohibit any downgrading of National Scenic Trail scenic integrity requirements in current law if the project represents a net degradation to the trail;
  • Codify the end of “tolling orders,” a longstanding practice that allowed FERC to place landowner rehearing requests in limbo while pipeline constructions were allowed to continue, and strengthen landowners’ ability to proceed to court should FERC not rule on grievances in a timely manner. The “tolling orders” practice was recently struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit;
  • Codify that FERC must consider landowners’ rehearings within 30 days.

"The Appalachian Trail Conservancy applauds Senators Kaine and Warner for their efforts to protect our National Scenic Trails,” said Sandra Marra, President and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “The Pipeline Fairness Act requires regulators like FERC to examine the large and lasting impacts proposed developments could have on our irreplaceable public lands. We look forward to continuing our work with the Senators and other elected officials on behalf of all National Scenic Trails, ensuring that they continue to benefit millions of visitors, thousands of volunteers, and hundreds of trailside communities."

“Originally passed in 1938, the Natural Gas Act is long overdue for a rebalancing of landowner interests with those of natural gas development,” said David Bookbinder, Chief Counsel of the Niskanen Center. “By strengthening landowner rights and requiring more transparency in FERC's approval process, Senators Kaine and Warner's bill will is a major step forward in preventing the capricious loss of private property.”

 Full text of the legislation is available here.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) wrote a letter to President Biden, formally requesting the approval of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and federal assistance for individuals affected by the extreme and devastating rainfall event that occurred on July 13, 2022. This request includes Individual and Public Assistance for Buchanan County, Public Assistance for Tazewell County, and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“This extreme storm event dropped seven inches of rain on eastern Buchanan County and northwestern Tazewell County within several hours, which resulted in flash flooding that damaged waterlines, transmission lines, roads, bridges, homes, and businesses. The joint preliminary damage assessment found that this severe storm event destroyed 37 homes and caused significant damage to 54 other properties in Buchanan County,” wrote the lawmakers. “This major storm event comes less than a year after the community of Hurley, Virginia – located in Buchanan County – experienced a devastating rainfall event that resulted in heavy flooding, landslides, and mudslides that destroyed 31 homes and resulted in major damage to 27 other properties, along with extensive damage to other public and private infrastructure.”

“Our constituents in Buchanan County are still grappling with the aftermath of this devastating storm event, which resulted in a Major Disaster Declaration, and are now forced to respond to this debilitating storm event. Many residents in Buchanan County remain displaced from last year’s extreme rainfall event and are already facing another uprooting of their lives,” they continued. “The impact of these two natural disasters within a calendar year has severely stressed the resources and capabilities of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. We hope you consider this cumulative impact on this community as you review the Commonwealth’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration.”

In their letter, the lawmakers noted the particular need for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County and its residents, who have withstood multiple natural disasters within a year. The Administration’s approval of a Major Disaster Declaration would provide a surge of federal resources and support, allowing Virginia to more quickly respond to and recover from the direct and indirect consequences caused by July’s storm.  

Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith have been pushing for federal assistance since the devastating floods of August 2021. In October 2021, they sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden to express their strong support for former Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam's September 30th request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. Later that month, the President approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which provided Public Assistance for Buchanan County and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, on October 29, the Administration issued a formal denial of Governor Northam’s request for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County. In December 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith sent a letter to President Biden asking his administration to approve an appeal that would grant federal assistance to individual residents in and around Hurley, Virginia. Despite these efforts, Virginia’s appeal was ultimately denied in January 2022.

Today’s letter comes after Sen. Warner visited Buchanan County on August 22 and Sen. Kaine and Rep. Griffith visited Buchanan County on August 26 – all to see the impacts of the flooding and hear from impacted Virginians.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear President Biden:

We write today to express our strong support for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the counties of Buchanan and Tazewell, following the extreme and devastating rainfall event that occurred on July 13, 2022. The Governor has requested Individual and Public Assistance for Buchanan County, Public Assistance for Tazewell County, and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On July 13, 2022, Governor Youngkin declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth following severe flooding that occurred that morning. This extreme storm event dropped seven inches of rain on eastern Buchanan County and northwestern Tazewell County within several hours, which resulted in flash flooding that damaged waterlines, transmission lines, roads, bridges, homes, and businesses. The joint preliminary damage assessment found that this severe storm event destroyed 37 homes and caused significant damage to 54 other properties in Buchanan County.

This major storm event comes less than a year after the community of Hurley, Virginia – located in Buchanan County – experienced a devastating rainfall event that resulted in heavy flooding, landslides, and mudslides that destroyed 31 homes and resulted in major damage to 27 other properties, along with extensive damage to other public and private infrastructure. Our constituents in Buchanan County are still grappling with the aftermath of this devastating storm event, which resulted in a Major Disaster Declaration, and are now forced to respond to this debilitating storm event. Many residents in Buchanan County remain displaced from last year’s extreme rainfall event and are already facing another uprooting of their lives. The impact of these two natural disasters within a calendar year has severely stressed the resources and capabilities of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. We hope you consider this cumulative impact on this community as you review the Commonwealth’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration.

A Major Disaster Declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of this significant storm event. Federal assistance – particularly the issuance of Individual Assistance – is needed in Buchanan County to help our constituents recover and rebuild following multiple natural disasters.

We thank you for your consideration of Governor Youngkin’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration. We look forward to working with you, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other relevant federal agencies to ensure the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to support our constituents following this tragic event.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law:

“We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change. We’re also glad that it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the care and benefits they deserve. We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.”

Below are some of the ways the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians:

Lower Prescription Drug Costs

  • The law allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities—a provision Warner and Kaine have long fought to pass to lower prescription drug costs.
  • The law establishes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. In 2020, more than 36,000 Virginians with Medicare Part D spent more than $2,000 out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
  • The law expands the Low-Income Subsidy program, a program that currently helps cover prescription drug costs for over 11,000 low-income Virginians with Medicare.
  • The law provides free coverage for vaccines under Medicare Part D and improves access to vaccines under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2020, nearly 85,000 Virginians received a vaccine covered under Medicare Part D.

Affordable Health Care

  • During the pandemic, Congress enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help lower health care premiums for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend these enhanced subsidies for three years through 2025 to help make Virginians’ health insurance more affordable. Over 300,000 Virginians have ACA coverage in 2022.
  • The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Virginians with ACA insurance would have seen a $71 increase in their monthly premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.

Black Lung Benefits

  • The law permanently extends the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits. In Virginia, thousands of miners and their families have received benefits through the trust fund since it was established, including approximately 2,600 Virginians last year alone.

Clean Energy and Climate Provisions

  • The law will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
  • The law incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.  The Inflation Reduction Act expands the 48C investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities. All clean energy tax credits include a bonus for meeting domestic manufacturing requirements related to steel, iron, or other manufactured components. The law also expands tax credits for residential clean energy and home efficiency improvements.
  • According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.
  • The law includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
  • The law includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
  • The law includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
  • The law includes $2 billion for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
  • The law includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.

Tax Fairness

  • The law takes steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year.
  • The law also provides funding to modernize Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems and improve customer service when paying taxes. This will help ensure the IRS has the resources it needs to process tax returns quickly, get rebates to taxpayers faster, and address challenges Americans have when filing taxes.

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 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $11,549,192 in federal funding for two Virginia transit systems. The funding was awarded through the Department of Transportation’s Fiscal Year 2022 Low or Now Emission Vehicle Program that helps state and local governments purchase or lease zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as acquire and construct support facilities, and was made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine.

“Electric and natural gas vehicles offer a clean and affordable alternative to traditional fuel vehicles,” the senators said. “We are glad to see Virginia receive this funding to support the adoption of more energy efficient vehicles and the needed infrastructure to continue our transition to a transportation system with a significantly lower impact on the environment.” 

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $10,032,000 for the GRTC Transit System to replace natural gas buses that have reached the end of their useful life.
  • $952,192 for the GRTC Transit System to construct a vehicle storage facility.
  • $565,000 for the City of Suffolk to purchase new electric buses and charging stations.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently supported policies designed to bring down energy costs and support the transition to cleaner fuels with less environmental impact. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine included billions of dollars to support the transition to electric and zero-emission cars and buses. The Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed by the Senate last week, also included significant provisions to support the adoption of a clean energy future, and is expected to reduce carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030.

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner released the following statement applauding the Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, which includes key provisions to deepen and widen channels in and around Norfolk Harbor, improve Virginia’s coastal resiliency, and strengthen Virginia’s wastewater treatment infrastructure:

“High-quality water infrastructure—from easy access to clean drinking water to protection from rising sea levels—plays a vital role in the health, well-being, and future of Virginia communities. That’s why we always fight to include funding and support for the Commonwealth in the annual bipartisan water infrastructure bill, and this year was no exception. Today’s legislation will help us plan for much-needed dredging in the Norfolk Harbor, protect drinking water, and safeguard communities from rising sea levels. We’re going to keep working to get it signed into law as quickly as possible.”

The legislation will help repair aging drinking water, wastewater, and irrigation systems across America, and Warner and Kaine successfully fought to include the following priorities for Virginia:

  • An increase in the authorization of the Western Lee County Sewer Project from $20 million to $52 million. This project—which will create new opportunities for economic growth—is needed to serve residents of Western Lee County who currently do not have access to a public wastewater collection or treatment system, which poses a threat to public health and the area’s surface water and groundwater quality. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included $281,295 to complete design of the Western Lee County Sewer Project and $2.2 million to initiate construction of this project. Increasing this authorization will allow the Army Corps to fully budget and carry out this project—pending Congressional appropriations.
  • A study to support needed modifications to Anchorage F of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening and Widening project for improved safety and navigation; and
  • A change in policy to give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flexibility to incorporate federal installations of other federal agencies as part of a flood or Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) project sponsored by the Army Corps. This addresses longstanding challenges encountered during the Norfolk CSRM study phase, where Naval Station Norfolk and the NOAA Maritime Operations Center were excluded from the plan. Hampton Roads is home to at least 7 federal agencies and 17 installations that could benefit from this provision. The change comes after the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which resulted in $399.3 million in construction funding for Norfolk’s CSRM, and $1.5 million for Virginia Beach’s CSRM to cover the costs of a planning study. Senators Warner and Kaine have requested funding for a similar study for the City of Hampton and the surrounding area as a Congressional Directed Spending request to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill.

The next step for the legislation is a conference committee between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, before returning to each body for final votes.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Renewable Natural Gas Incentive Act, bipartisan legislation to provide a tax credit for heavy-duty vehicles that use renewable natural gas, further supporting clean and efficient and transportation across the country.  

“Renewable natural gas is a clean, affordable, and reliable fuel source that can help lower emissions from heavy-duty vehicles,” said Senator Warner. “I am proud to introduce legislation to incentivize investment in clean vehicles that will have a positive impact on our environment while significantly aiding in the transition to a clean energy economy.”

“Renewable natural gas offers an affordable, reliable, and sustainable transportation fuel for industries across America,” said Senator Burr. “This bill provides a tax credit to keep our country’s trucks and buses moving, lowering the cost of doing business while improving air quality, decreasing our reliance on foreign energy, and creating high-paying jobs. I am proud to work with Senator Warner on this commonsense bill that will support American energy independence for years to come.”

Previously, renewable natural gas received a lower tax credit than similar transportation fuels, despite its ultra-low emissions and ability to deliver economic growth as a scalable alternative energy source. The Renewable Natural Gas Incentive Act would create a $1.00 per gallon tax credit for sellers of renewable natural gas used for transportation.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and fellow Chesapeake Bay State-sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), and Chris Coons (D-DE) today announced that they urged Senate leaders to support across-the-board funding sufficient to answer the many threats facing the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“Our states are heavily invested in implementing a Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint designed to restore this national treasure. Continued federal partnership to support this complex, regional effort is key to their success,” the senators wrote. “To maintain the trust and collaboration of state and local partners, we have identified essential programs across the federal agency partners in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23).”

Notably, the senators advocate funding levels of $15 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake WILD program; $10.7 million for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office; $5.6 million for National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office programs; and more than $17 million for scientific and monitoring services of the U.S. Geological Survey.

“As a testament to the value of this federal-state partnership, all watershed states signed the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Under the Agreement, the jurisdictions and federal agencies have voluntarily committed to work together to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025,” wrote the senators. “We must maintain federal investment in the programs below to support state-led efforts and ensure their continued success.” 

Full text of the letter is available here.   

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement on President Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports amid Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine:

“By banning Russian oil imports, President Biden has made clear once again that Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine will not go unpunished. Right now, Ukrainians are fighting with their lives against authoritarian rule to preserve the same freedoms we hold sacred. While only three percent of U.S. crude imports come from Russia, we cannot stand with the Ukrainian people while also continuing to support Russia’s energy economy. As the conflict in Ukraine continues to contribute to rising gas prices worldwide, I am committed to working with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to do what we can to address the pain Americans are feeling at the gas pump.”

Last week, Sen. Warner joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in introducing the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act – legislation to prohibit the importation of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal into the United States.

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 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $1,530,000 in federal funding awarded to school districts across the Commonwealth. The funds were administered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of two programs: the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebates and the annual 2021 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates. The funds will go towards the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, propane, compressed natural gas, diesel or gasoline buses that will reduce harmful emissions in the environment.

“We are glad to see so many Virginia school districts receive funding to invest in electric school buses and cleaner vehicles,” the Senators said. “This investment will significantly benefit our communities by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to helping Virginia school districts compete for additional funding through the $5 billion clean and electric school bus grant program in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”  

The funds will be broken down as follows:

  • $900,000 for three school buses for Petersburg City Public Schools as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebates.

This new program provides funds to replace old diesel school buses with new, zero-emission electric school buses. The funds are reserved exclusively for school districts in underserved communities, Tribal schools, and private fleets serving those schools.

  • $250,000 for 10 buses for Newport News Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $200,000 for 10 buses for Loudoun County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $100,000 for five buses for Carroll County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $80,000 for four buses for Culpeper County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.

This program funds the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, diesel, gasoline, propane, or compressed natural gas school buses meeting current emission standards.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and a bipartisan group of Senate and House members in introducing the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act, which would prohibit the importation of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal into the United States.

In 2021, the United States imported an average of 670,000 barrels of oil and petroleum products daily, with a high of 848,000 barrels per day in June 2021. Total imports of Russian crude oil and petroleum products were up 24% in 2021 over 2020. The U.S. has also imported Russian LNG and coal despite having some of the largest reserves domestically. The continued importation of Russian energy commodities would only help support Vladimir Putin’s ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine and his ability to stay in power.

“Since Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has pulled together an impressive international coalition to impose swift and severe sanctions on Russia. While these measures have already put intense pressure on Russia’s economy, it’s clear more must be done to punish Putin for the tragedies occurring in Ukraine. As Putin continues his vicious assault on the citizens of Ukraine, we should not continue to support Russia’s energy economy by importing these commodities. That’s why I’m proud to support this legislation that would strike at the heart of the Russian economy by banning the importation of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal into the United States,” said Senator Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“The entire world is on edge as Vladimir Putin terrorizes the sovereign democratic nation of Ukraine. The U.S. cannot continue to purchase more than half a million barrels of oil per day because in doing so, we are emboldening Putin to continue using his greatest weapon of war – energy exports,” said Chairman Manchin. “The Ban Russian Energy Imports Act would declare a national emergency with respect to Russian aggression and immediately prohibit the importation of Russian energy products. Importantly, this bipartisan bill shows our strong commitment to stand behind the valiant efforts of the Ukrainian people and the measures our allies in Europe are taking to rebuke Putin and his continued aggression. I urge Leader Schumer to quickly bring this bipartisan bill to the floor and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support it.”

“The world is watching in shock as Russia wages an unprovoked war on Ukraine, killing innocents as it attempts to destroy a fragile democracy. While the Biden administration has taken noteworthy steps to try to convince Vladimir Putin and his regime to stand down, we need an all-encompassing approach that uses every viable tool at our disposal. By leaving Russia’s energy exports untouched, the United States is ignoring one of our most potent options to stop the bloodshed. We must ban Russia’s energy imports into the U.S. so that Americans aren’t forced to help finance their growing atrocities and halt the Russian aggression. I’m proud to sponsor this bill with Senator Manchin and urge the Senate to pass it immediately,” said Senator Murkowski.

Sens. Warner, Manchin and Murkowski were joined in introducing the legislation by U.S Sens. John Tester (D-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rob Portman (R-OH). U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Ban Russian Energy Imports Act would:

  • Declare a national emergency specifically with respect to the threat to our national security, foreign policy, and economy that exists as a result of Russian aggression against Ukraine and directs the President to prohibit imports of crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, LNG, and coal from Russia.
  • The President has had the authority to take these actions since 1917; this legislation does not grant additional authority. This approach is modeled on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.  
  • The ban would be in place during the national emergency and either the President or Congress would be able to terminate the emergency and the import ban. 
  • The bill exempts product that is already loaded or in transit at the time of enactment. 

Full text of the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act is available here. To learn more about the legislation click here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) today announced $174,458 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to the United Way of Southwest Virginia, Inc. for the Hurley Disaster Recovery Project following the August 30, 2021 flooding in Hurley, Virginia.

“The Town of Hurley has been left reeling from catastrophic flooding that took place last August,” the lawmakers said. “This funding will provide much-needed relief to the area and help those still dealing with the effects to rebuild.”  

Losses due to the flooding affected 1,000 community members, as 30 residential structures were damaged and more than 40 were completely destroyed. The ARC funds will be used to support a public-private partnership, which is coordinating the long-term recovery efforts from the flooding. The project will support Hurley in its recovery from the August 30, 2021 flood event by assisting 70 households with disaster relief and constructing or rehabilitating 50 homes.

Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Griffith have been pushing for federal assistance since the devastating floods. Earlier this month the lawmakers announced the availability of disaster assistance applications for Southwest Virginia residents and businesses affected by the flooding.

In October 2021, the lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden to express their strong support for former Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam's September 30th request for a major disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. On October 26, the President approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which provided Public Assistance for Buchanan County and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, on October 29, 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a formal denial of Governor Northam’s request for Individual Assistance for Buchanan County.

In December 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Morgan Griffith sent a letter to President Biden asking his administration to approve an appeal that would grant federal assistance to individual residents in and around Hurley. Despite these efforts, Virginia’s appeal was ultimately denied last month.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded $161 million in federal funding to rehabilitate the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). This historic funding was made possible by the Great American Outdoors Act, a once-in-a-generation law authored and championed by Sen. Warner. The funding will come to Virginia by way of a contract issued by the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

“When we passed the Great American Outdoors Act, we knew it would help enable historic investments in national parks throughout the nation. Today, I’m proud to see these dollars come to Virginia to help rehabilitate one of the most important parkways in the nation,” said Sen. Warner. “Along with the funding that’s coming through our bipartisan infrastructure law, I look forward to seeing how these investments strengthen our Commonwealth, create local jobs, and reinvigorate our local economies.”

The George Washington Memorial Parkway is a scenic roadway that honors the nation’s first president and preserves cultural and natural resources along the Potomac River from Great Falls to Mount Vernon.  The northern section of the parkway – from Spout Run to Interstate 495 – is the busiest section of parkway and serves about 26 million drivers annually or roughly 70,000 vehicles per day. This section, which opened in 1962, has never undergone a major rehabilitation. The first phase of the project will be project design, and park visitors and drivers will experience little or no change to their routines. Construction, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2025, will impact drivers. Before construction begins, the NPS will provide detailed information to help drivers plan their trips.   

Championed by Sen. Warner, the Great American Outdoors Act is a landmark law that preserves and protects our country’s national parks and public lands. The bipartisan law provides permanent and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and helps address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks and other land management agencies. It also tackles $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s national parks.

Sen. Warner’s effort to address the deferred maintenance backlog began in March 2017, when he worked with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act. That same year, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance. In March 2018, after extensive negotiations, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites.

In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner and his colleagues introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law in August of 2020. According to the Park Service, approximately $249 million in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act has been allocated to national parks in Virginia thus far.

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), introduced the Enhancing Military Base Resilience and Conserving Ecosystems through Stormwater Management (EMBRACE) Act, legislation to authorize the Department of Defense (DOD) to carry out stormwater management projects at military installations to improve resilience at the facilities while protecting waterways and stormwater impacted ecosystems, such as those that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. Senator Kaine is pushing to include the legislation in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this year.

“Sea level rise, flooding, and stormwater pollution threatens not only our environment and economy, but our military readiness too,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to introduce the EMBRACE Act, legislation to help our Armed Forces protect our military bases and environment from the effects of climate change. This is a collaborative approach to defend our nation, improve our waterways, and preserve our environment for generations to come.”

“Military bases across the Commonwealth are at risk of flooding due to climate change. The EMBRACE Act will allow for projects to reinforce these bases while protecting our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. These projects are crucial to keeping our military facilities operational and ready,” said Senator Warner.

“The impacts of the climate crisis – from flooding to natural disasters – increasingly threaten Maryland communities, including our military installations. We need all hands on deck to respond, which is why our legislation authorizes the Department of Defense to help reduce stormwater runoff that threatens access to clean water and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This common-sense bill will support our efforts to protect both civilian and military communities, while also supporting a clean and healthy Bay,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Climate change, including more extreme weather and flooding events that increase stormwater runoff, has significant implications for U.S. national security and defense. This legislation bolsters the work of the Department of Defense – a federal agency partner of the Chesapeake Bay Program restoration effort – to reduce runoff and improve water quality by implementing stormwater management practices at military installations,” said Senator Cardin.

Stormwater remains the only pollutant in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that continues to increase. Climate related impacts, such as increased rainfall intensity, only exacerbate this problem. As the second largest federal landholder in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, DOD plays a vital role in reducing stormwater loads and enhancing climate resiliency.

Specifically, the EMBRACE Act would:

  • Make stormwater management projects eligible for federal funding under either military construction projects, military installation resilience projects, unspecified minor military construction projects, defense access roads projects, the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP), and Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP).
  • Instructs DOD to prioritize projects that retrofit buildings and grounds on bases and improve access to roads prone to flooding.
  • Supports the building of stormwater ponds and other retention strategies.
  • Supports replacing impermeable paving that lets water run off with materials that let water seep into the soil, allowing projects such as rain gardens, cisterns, and planters to be eligible for funds. 

Climate change has put numerous Virginia and Maryland military bases at increased risk of flooding, including Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Air Station Oceana, Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, Langley Air Force Base, Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Joint Base Andrews, and Naval Support Activity South Potomac.

The EMBRACE Act is endorsed by The Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy, Choose Clean Water Coalition, American Flood Coalition Action, the Nature Conservancy, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Wetlands Watch.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03), Rob Wittman (VA-01), and Elaine Luria (VA-02) introduced companion legislation in September. The bill also passed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in September in the House of Representatives.

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that President Biden has approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan County, after extreme rainfall on August 30 resulted in devastating flash floods and landslides. The declaration provides federal support through Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation grant programs to assist in recovery efforts and protect against future disasters. 

“I’m grateful to President Biden for approving my request and providing much needed federal assistance,” said Governor Northam. “Federal support will help Buchanan residents recover from this devastating storm and reduce the future flood risk to local organizations, homes, and businesses. As Governor, I will continue to do everything I can to support the Hurley community.”    

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will hold Applicant Briefings in the coming weeks to help inform potential grant applicants of the process for applying for and receiving federal grants. Applicants will have 30 days to register and submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) in the FEMA Grants Portal.

Public Assistance (approved)
With this approval, local, state, and private non-profit organizations with infrastructure damage or emergency and debris removal expenditures, may apply to FEMA for reimbursement of 75 percent of eligible costs. The FEMA Public Assistance program could take years to be fully reimbursed for disaster related expenditures. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is the administrative agency for this grant program.
https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20210318/what-fema-public-assistance

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (approved)
With this approval, Virginia will receive funding for projects to reduce future flooding to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. This program could take 5-7 years to implement. The application phase of this program is 12 months, and then FEMA may take 6-18 months to award the project based on environmental and historic review compliance or technical feasibility review. Federal assistance is approved at 75 percent of the total eligible project costs. Local governments and state agencies will apply through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management as the administrative agency.
https://www.fema.gov/es/grants/mitigation/hazard-mitigation

“We’re pleased President Biden has heeded our calls and supported Governor Northam’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration,” said Senator Mark R. Warner and Senator Tim Kaine. “Now, Virginia can receive much-needed federal funds to help Buchanan County recover. We will continue working with the Governor’s office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other relevant federal and state agencies to ensure the residents of Buchanan County have the resources they need following this tragic natural disaster.” 

“Recovery from August’s severe flooding will take time, but the federal major disaster declaration will significantly help Hurley move forward,” said Congressman Morgan Griffith. “This declaration opens up new sources of aid for the rebuilding effort and will contribute to overcoming the flood’s devastation.”

A decision on the potential award of Individual Assistance is still pending.

For more information, please visit VDEM’s grants page.

# # #

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), introduced legislation to preserve invaluable local resources and help generate economic activity in the Northern Neck. By officially designating the region as a National Heritage Area (NHA), the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Act would deliver critical federal dollars, encourage public-private partnerships, and assign a specific entity – the Northern Neck Tourism Commission – to help protect the Northern Neck’s natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources. 

NPS defines national heritage areas as congressionally designated places where “natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.” Through their resources, NHAs communicate “nationally important stories” that celebrate the nation’s diverse heritage. Under this legislation, the NHA designation would apply to the land between the Potomac River and Rappahannock River, spanning King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties. 

“As many Virginians already know, the Northern Neck is reflective of the Commonwealth’s unique history, with deep connections to eight Algonquian tribes and a number of American statesmen, including James Madison, James Monroe, and George Washington,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to help protect the rich history and unique geography of the Northern Neck, and leverage federal dollars to spur long-lasting economic opportunity in the region.” 

“Virginia’s Northern Neck is a source of pride, history, and economic development for the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Kaine. “The beauty and cultural significance of the region attract tourism, strengthening Virginia’s economy and supporting jobs. I’m proud to introduce this piece of legislation to highlight the Northern Neck’s natural beauty and cultural assets, which will bring visitors and economic development.”

“The Northern Neck’s lands and waters showcase a natural beauty unlike any other. As a longtime resident of the Northern Neck, I know our heritage is unique and worthy of preserving,” said Rep. Wittman. “With a history profoundly intertwined with that of the entire nation, it’s only right for us to recognize the Northern Neck as a National Heritage Area. I’m proud to join Senators Warner and Kaine in introducing this bipartisan legislation.” 

The introduction of this legislation follows the completion of the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. The National Park Service (NPS) – which began conducting this study more than a decade ago – recently concluded that the Northern Neck’s themes, local traditions, and natural and historic resources retain “sufficient integrity and opportunities for public engagement” to be eligible for an NHA designation. 

Under this legislation, and as approved by the NPS study, the heritage area would be managed by the Northern Neck Tourism Commission, which would serve as the NHA’s local coordinating entity. 

This legislation would also make federal funding available to the region and empower the commission to carry out an area management plan, including by:

·         Protecting and restoring relevant historic sites and building;

·         Carrying out programs and projects that recognize, protect, and enhance important resources;

·         Developing recreational and educational opportunities in the area;

·         Establishing and maintaining interpretive exhibits and programs;

·         Promoting a wide range of partnerships among the federal government, state, tribal and local governments, organizations, and individuals; 

·         Increasing public awareness and appreciation for natural, historical, scenic, and cultural resources in the area; and

·         Ensuring that clear, consistent, and appropriate signs identifying points of public access and sires of interest are posted throughout the area

"The Northern Neck has been working together for over 20 years in pursuit of the National Heritage Area Designation.  With designation, the Northern Neck Region will have a greater voice in sharing its stories which contribute to understanding the early origins of our nation. The National Heritage Area Designation recognizes the region for the special place it is, historically, culturally, and for its natural resources. It aligns with the region's tourism strategy as an important economic development driver in this rural area,” said Jerry W. Davis, AICP, Executive Director of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission.    

Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine, and Rep. Wittman have long advocated for the designation of the Northern Neck as a National Heritage Area. Last year, the lawmakers penned a letter requesting an update from NPS on the area’s feasibility study, following apparent delays in its release.

The text of this legislation is available here.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) joined universities and wind energy experts from across the country on Friday to announce the winners of the Collegiate Wind Competition. Over the course of the academic year, thirteen undergraduate teams designed, built, and tested model wind turbines, developed project plans, collaborated with industry experts, and engaged with their local communities—preparing them for careers in the growing wind and renewable energy workforce to support President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

“Congratulations to the students at Virginia Tech for winning the Connection Creation Contest in the Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner. “Virginia is proud to be a leader in renewable energy and I look forward to seeing the extraordinary work these students continue to do in the jobs of tomorrow.”

“Wind energy is an essential part of our fight against the climate crisis, and that means one thing for talented and driven young people like these students: jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With their help, I have no doubt that we’ll propel the wind industry to sky-high heights, and send a gust of growth from coast to coast that lifts every American community into a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future.”

Each year, the Collegiate Wind Competition integrates a new challenge into the contest that reflects real-world wind industry needs. Taking the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of supply chain disruptions into account, the 2021 challenge tasked teams with developing projects for deployment in highly uncertain times, with a significant degree of unknown risks and delays. This year’s competition also featured a new “Connection Creation Contest,” which challenged students to engage with industry professionals, their local communities, and local media outlets, in order to broaden their understanding of the workforce and educate new audiences about the benefits of wind and renewable energy.

The full list of winners is below:

  • Connection Creation Contest: Virginia Tech University
  • Overall First Place: Pennsylvania State University
  • Overall Second Place: Johns Hopkins University
  • Overall Third Place: California Polytechnic State University
  • Turbine Prototype Contest: Kansas State University
  • Project Development Contest: Pennsylvania State University

“Congratulations to the students of Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Wind Competition team on their victory in the Connection Creation Contest. Their accomplishment showed an impressive understanding of the wind power industry and an ability to engage the community in their goals. This achievement shows once again how Virginia Tech leads the way in the STEM field and equips young people for the challenges of the future,” said U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith.

“Congratulations to Cal Poly’s Wind Energy Team for their recognition in the 2021 Collegiate Wind Competition! They embodied the ‘learn by doing motto,’ tackling this real world project with dedication and determination. We know renewable energy is the future, so it is imperative that we have a workforce that is prepared for these future-oriented jobs. We will need smart people, like the members of the Cal Poly Wind Energy Team, to lead the way,” said U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal.

The 2022 Collegiate Wind Competition is scheduled for May 16–19, 2022, at the American Clean Power Association’s CLEANPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas. For more details about Collegiate Wind Competition, visit the CWC website

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) today introduced the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement (SEEE) Act, which aims to restore the health of the Bay Watershed, strengthen fisheries management, and expand environmental education programs for residents across the Bay Watershed. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA).

“The Chesapeake Bay is not only an important recreational and ecological treasure, it’s also a vital economic engine for Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “I am proud to introduce this legislation that will support the mission of NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay office to improve the health of the Bay and ensure its sustainable use for generations to come.”

“The prosperity of the Commonwealth and the health of the Chesapeake Bay are inextricable,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bill will support the vital work of preserving our ecosystems, maintaining healthy waterways, and understanding climate challenges so Virginia can continue to reap the benefits the Bay provides.”

“We are at a critical moment for Chesapeake Bay restoration, facing harmful climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, temperatures, and extreme rain events,” said Sen. Cardin. “NOAA's science helps ensure the investments we make will go the furthest to benefit the watershed through improved livelihoods, public health, water quality, and resilience—now and in the future.” 

“A clean Chesapeake Bay is essential to the health of Maryland’s environment and success of our Bay economy,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “This legislation will help deliver on our commitment to preserve and protect the Bay through crucial partners like the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and environmental educational programs. I am proud to support this bill and will continue working in Congress to provide the resources necessary to promote a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay.” 

“I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an incredible wildlife area that includes multiple counties in West Virginia. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to reauthorize the NOAA Chesapeake Bay office and the programs they support to benefit the habitats in our state and across the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Sen. Manchin.

Specifically, the Chesapeake Bay SEEE Act would: 

  • Reauthorize the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (CBO), a key partner of the Bay Program and leader of the Program’s fisheries, environmental literacy, climate resiliency, and habitat work. The bill would allow NOAA CBO to collaborate with universities, nonprofits, and other Bay stakeholders to promote integrated coastal observations – such as monitoring and observing restoration activities, collecting and analyzing marine resources data – and information sharing to assist policymakers, resource managers, and the public.
  • Direct NOAA to support coordinated management, protection, characterization, and restoration of Bay habitats and living resources, as well as the Interpretive Buoy System along the Capital John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
  • Authorize the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, which awards educational grants related to Bay restoration.
  • Reauthorize NOAA CBO through 2025, funding it at $12 million in FY22, $20.7 million in FY23, $22.57 million in FY24, and $24.627 million in FY25.

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the U.S. More than 150,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to 18 million people across Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. 

A copy of the bill text can be found here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and a bicameral group of lawmakers in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), requesting the agency include measures to better support the involvement of residential and small commercial energy consumers as it works to establish the Office of Public Participation (OPP). 

As one of the lead agencies responsible for developing energy infrastructure and ensuring reliability of the electric grid, FERC has sweeping authority over the wholesale power markets and ultimate jurisdiction in the federal siting and permitting process for natural gas pipelines. While FERC’s decisions determine which energy projects are constructed and significantly influence the energy prices consumers pay, private citizens have expressed frustration that participating in FERC’s complex proceedings is extremely challenging.

“As sponsors of the Public Engagement at FERC Act, we write to commend the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the steps you are taking to encourage and facilitate greater public involvement in FERC proceedings as directed by Congress,” wrote the lawmakers. “As the Commission determines how to fulfill its responsibility to coordinate assistance to the public, we encourage you to pay particular attention to providing residential and small commercial energy consumers a strong voice in shaping our nation’s energy future.”

The lawmakers continued, “As you work to establish an organizational structure for this office, we urge the Commission to consider measures included in the Public Engagement at FERC Act as a way to further improve public participation and remove technical barriers that may prevent consumers from making their voices heard.” Specifically, the lawmakers urged the Commission to consider measures included in the Public Engagement at FERC Act to further improve public participation and remove technical barriers that may prevent consumers from making their voices heard, including:

  • The employment of directed outreach methods, such as consultation services and technical assistance, to ensure the interests of residential and small commercial consumers are adequately represented; and
  • The creation of a Public and Consumer Advocacy Advisory Committee for the office composed of representatives from the national and state-based nongovernmental consumer advocacy community and provide intervener funding to individuals or small commercial energy consumer groups to encourage their participation in FERC proceedings. 

The lawmakers concluded, “As Federal policies continue to expand FERC’s impact on utility bills paid by families and small businesses, it is essential that the public play a more prominent role in decisions made by the Commission. Energy consumers have waited more than 40 years for FERC to create an office to strengthen public involvement and ensure the decisions being made are in the best interest of those who will be most impacted. We hope you will consider the priorities laid out in our legislation and establish the Office of Public Participation without delay.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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WASHINGTON – Amid the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, a bill written and passed into law by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner is set to create more than 18,851 jobs nationwide in 2021, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Great American Outdoors Act, which was championed by Sen. Warner and signed into law by President Trump last year, provides for up to $1.6 billion a year for five years to help address a multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at national parks and other public lands.

Warner announced today that among the projects that will receive funding this year are overdue upgrades at three National Park Service (NPS) sites in Virginia: the GW Memorial Parkway ($207.8 million in overdue upgrades); Colonial National Historical Park ($10 million in upgrades); and Skyline Drive ($26.2 million in upgrades), as well as additional repairs at Shenandoah National Park (to the tune of $3.5 million).

“Amid the COVID-19 crisis, this law will create thousands of jobs,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud that Virginia’s national park sites will finally be receiving crucial repairs that have been postponed for years. Future generations will reap the benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime investment in our national treasures.”

The Great American Outdoors Act is a product of Sen. Warner’s effort of more than three years to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the overall maintenance backlog currently sits at $1.1 billion dollars. A previously released estimate found that the law is expected to create or support more than 10,000 jobs in Virginia over the life of the bill.  

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) joined by Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, urging the EPA to use all tools available to meet the 2025 goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The pollution reduction requirements in the Bay TMDL are vital to protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay and ensuring the Bay’s surrounding states each do their part in reducing pollution. Recently, however, Pennsylvania has fallen behind in their TMDL requirements. While the Trump Administration refused to use its legal authority to ensure compliance, the Senators are urging the EPA to take the necessary action to do so.

The Senators write, “On December 29, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, a historic and comprehensive agreement that includes accountability features to restore clean water in the seven jurisdictions within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The agreement is a national and indeed international model for watershed restoration. It sets limits for pollution that equate to a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, 24 percent reduction in phosphorous, and 20 percent reduction in sediment. As the Bay TMDL states, ‘The TMDL is designed to ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025[.]’”

“The Courts have upheld the legality of the Bay TMDL. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted, the ‘Clean Water Act does not simply direct the publication of the TMDL; it is one step in a process with several layers, each placing primary responsibility for pollution controls in state hands with ‘backstop authority’ vested in the EPA,’” they continue. 

“The implementation of the Bay TMDL and the Bay jurisdiction’s Watershed Implementation Plans are, therefore, part of EPA’s legal obligation to achieve and maintain the nutrient goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL under the Clean Water Act,” the Senators note.

The Senators point to the need for action, writing, “We are at a critical juncture in implementation of the Bay TMDL. EPA’s response to Pennsylvania’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) noted that Pennsylvania is on track to meet only 75 percent of its nitrogen reduction targets and the Commonwealth itself identified a $324 million annual shortfall in their plan. The State of New York’s Phase III WIP is also 1 million pounds under its nitrogen goal. We ask that you use all tools at your disposal—including those identified in Bay TMDL Section 7—to make sure that all jurisdictions are on track for 2025.”

The text of the letter is available here and below.

 

Dear Administrator Regan:

Congratulations on your confirmation as Administrator to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

We stand by to offer our partnership to your efforts as Administrator of the EPA to achieve our mutual goal of clean water in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.

On December 29, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a historic and comprehensive agreement that includes accountability features to restore clean water in the seven jurisdictions within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The agreement is a national and indeed international model for watershed restoration. It sets limits for pollution that equate to a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, 24 percent reduction in phosphorous, and 20 percent reduction in sediment.  As the Bay TMDL states, “The TMDL is designed to ensure that all pollution control measures needed to fully restore the Bay and its tidal rivers are in place by 2025[.]”

The goal of the Clean Water Act is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” To that end, states are first required to set water quality standards for all waters within their boundaries regardless of the sources of pollution.  When those water quality standards cannot be met and maintained through effluent limitations and technology-based controls on point sources, water quality-based controls are required under Section 303(d) of the Act. States are required to identify waters within its boundaries that cannot achieve water quality standards based on effluent limitations, and then “shall establish for [impaired] waters […] the total maximum daily load, for those pollutants which the Administrator identifies […] as suitable for such calculation.” A TMDL is a specification of the maximum amount of a particular pollutant that can pass through a waterbody each day without violating water quality standards.  Such “load shall be established at a level necessary to implement the applicable water quality standards with seasonal variations and a margin of safety which takes into account any lack of knowledge[.]” Once the 303(d) list and any TMDLs are approved by the EPA, the reporting state must incorporate the list and TMDLs into its continuing planning process.

The Courts have upheld the legality of the Bay TMDL. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted, the “Clean Water Act does not simply direct the publication of the TMDL; it is one step in a process with several layers, each placing primary responsibility for pollution controls in state hands with ‘backstop authority’ vested in the EPA.”

In addition to these requirements, Section 117(g) of the Act requires EPA to take certain actions regarding the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement and the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  It states that the EPA Administrator, “in coordination with other members of the Chesapeake Executive Council, shall ensure that management plans are developed and implementation is begun by signatories to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement to achieve and maintain (A) the nutrient goals of the Chesapeake Bay Agreements for the quantity of nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed; (B) the water quality requirements necessary to restore living resources in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem; […] (D) habitat restoration, protection, creation, and enhancement goals established by Chesapeake Bay Agreement signatories for living wetlands, riparian forests, and other types of habitat associated with the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem; and (E) the restoration, protection, creation, and enhancement goals established by the Chesapeake Bay Agreement signatories for living resources associated with the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.” (emphasis added).

The implementation of the Bay TMDL and the Bay jurisdiction’s Watershed Implementation Plans are, therefore, part of EPA’s legal obligation to achieve and maintain the nutrient goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL under the Clean Water Act.  

Since the inception of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL – and through its Reasonable Assurance and Accountability Framework in Section 7 – EPA has communicated its expectations for the Bay watershed states and the District of Columbia to develop Watershed Implementation Plans and two-year milestones and “demonstrate satisfactory progress toward achieving nutrient and sediment allocations established by EPA in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.” In addition, the Agency laid out potential backstop actions the Bay jurisdictions would face if they failed to demonstrate progress on their obligations under the Bay TMDL, noting that the “identification of possible federal actions is intended to strengthen our individual and collective resolve to make the difficult choices and decisions along the road to a restored Chesapeake Bay and watershed and fill in the gaps to aid States and the District to meet their commitments in order to ensure that the allocations in the TMDL are achieved.”

Time and again, EPA has demonstrated through its approach in establishing and implementing the Bay TMDL, including its application of “backstop actions” when states deviated from their respective obligations, its view that the Bay jurisdictions are responsible for meeting the allocations in the Bay TMDL.  Indeed, as recently as April of 2017, in laying out its expectations for Pennsylvania’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan, EPA noted several examples of potential actions it could take specific to Pennsylvania if it determined that the state did not meet these expectations.  Those backstop actions included: (1) Targeting federal enforcement and compliance assurance in the watershed; (2) Directing Chesapeake Bay funding to identified priorities; (3) Establishing finer scale wasteload and load allocations through a Pennsylvania state-specific proposed amendment to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL; (4) Requiring additional reductions of loading from point sources through a Pennsylvania state-specific proposed amendment to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL; and (5) Initiating a process to propose promulgating nitrogen and phosphorous numeric water quality standards for Pennsylvania applicable to streams and rivers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

EPA’s defense of the Bay TMDL and its historic approach to the Bay jurisdiction’s development of the Watershed Implementation Plans clearly indicates that it took its responsibilities under Sections 303d and 117(g) seriously and that it viewed achieving the allocations in the Bay TMDL as necessary to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act.  

We are at a critical juncture in implementation of the Bay TMDL.  EPA’s response to Pennsylvania’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) noted that Pennsylvania is on track to meet only 75 percent of its nitrogen reduction targets and the Commonwealth itself identified a $324 million annual shortfall in their plan. The State of New York’s Phase III WIP is also 1 million pounds under its nitrogen goal. 

We ask that you use all tools at your disposal—including those identified in Bay TMDL Section 7—to make sure that all jurisdictions are on track for 2025.  

The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load has made strong progress towards cleanup of this national treasure and economic engine in our region. We are at a critical moment, and we look forward to working with you to make sure we meet our 2025 goals for clean water in the Chesapeake Bay.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen's (D-NH) bipartisan letter to President Biden urging him to prioritize robust investments in programs that promote energy efficiency in his upcoming budget proposal to Congress. In the letter, Shaheen and the Senators noted these investments would combat climate change by reducing harmful emissions and pollution and stimulate our economy by creating sustainable jobs and reducing energy costs for consumers. 

Since the pandemic has slowed progress in energy efficiency and led to job losses disproportionately harming workers of color, the Senators expressed urgency in delivering funding to unleash the full potential of the energy efficiency. 

“We applaud your commitment to restoring our nation’s global leadership on climate change while creating jobs here at home. To further these goals, we respectfully request you provide robust funding for programs that promote energy efficiency throughout our economy as your administration crafts its budget recommendation to Congress for fiscal year 2022,” wrote the Senators. “Increasing investment in energy efficiency programs within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can deliver significant emissions reductions, grow jobs in the clean energy sector and provide savings to American consumers.”

They continued: “Unfortunately, the pandemic and associated economic impacts have hit the energy efficiency sector especially hard, slowing progress and costing jobs, particularly for workers of color. According to recent analysis, more than 300,000 American jobs in energy efficiency have been lost since the beginning of the pandemic, representing a 12.8% reduction from pre-pandemic levels. Though jobs have been slowly returning, we need to invest in programs and implement policies—as we did in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—to truly unleash the job-creating potential of this sector.”

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Kelly (D-ZA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate for safeguarding our environment, combating the effects of climate change and investing in energy efficiency policies. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen traveled to Paris to participate in high-level discussions at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference that led to the international Paris Climate Accord. Shaheen also introduced the widely praised Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), which contains key energy efficiency policy reforms that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution. Policy experts at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that over the lifetime of the legislation through 2050, the bipartisan bill will save consumers more than $41 billion on their energy bills, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.18 billion metric tons, which is the equivalent of taking 3.1 million cars off the road each year for 30 years, and add more than 100,000 jobs to the economy. Shaheen is a founding member of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, which brings together an equal number of Republicans and Democrats to craft and advance bipartisan solutions to address climate change.

Read the Senators’ full letter here or below:

Dear President Biden: 

We applaud your commitment to restoring our nation’s global leadership on climate change while creating jobs here at home. To further these goals, we respectfully request you provide robust funding for programs that promote energy efficiency throughout our economy as your administration crafts its budget recommendation to Congress for fiscal year 2022. 

Increasing investment in energy efficiency programs within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can deliver significant emissions reductions, grow jobs in the clean energy sector and provide savings to American consumers. Specifically, the Buildings Technologies Office and the recently reauthorized Federal Energy Management Program develop and deploy cost-effective technologies and tools to improve energy efficiency performance of residential, commercial and federal buildings and their interactivity with the electric grid. The Advanced Manufacturing Office accelerates research, development and deployment of advanced technologies that make U.S. companies competitive in international markets. Moreover, the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program empower our states and community organizations to help put people to work improving the efficiency of homes, businesses, manufacturing plants, institutional buildings and other facilities that are critical to community development and resilience. Investing in these programs will also help address equity issues by reducing pollution that disproportionately impacts minority communities, lowering the higher energy burdens faced by low-income households and creating more comfortable and habitable shelters as the severity and pace of climate disasters continue to increase across the country. 

The environmental and economic benefits of energy efficiency are clear. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy efficiency globally has the potential to achieve more than 40% of the energy-related emissions reduction needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the United States, energy efficiency employment grew by 20%, nearly three times the rate of growth in the overall economy, in the five years leading up to 2020, and energy efficiency jobs are available in nearly every county in every state. Unfortunately, the pandemic and associated economic impacts have hit the energy efficiency sector especially hard, slowing progress and costing jobs, particularly for workers of color. According to recent analysis, more than 300,000 American jobs in energy efficiency have been lost since the beginning of the pandemic, representing a 12.8% reduction from pre-pandemic levels. Though jobs have been slowly returning, we need to invest in programs and implement policies—as we did in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—to truly unleash the job-creating potential of this sector. To help us understand these trends and the potential for growth, we also encourage your administration to recommit to collecting data and publishing an annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report and properly funding the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  

Finally, while DOE is clearly a leading agency in the federal government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency, we encourage your administration to prioritize energy efficiency across the administration and throughout sectors of our economy. We have a tremendous opportunity ahead to encourage work on energy efficiency through the General Services Administration, Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development programs, Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, and more.  

We look forward to working with you to unlock the unrealized potential of energy efficiency. Thank you for your consideration. 

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