Senate Passes Energy and Water Funding Bill Supporting Critical Infrastructure, Energy Projects...

Senate Passes Energy and Water Funding Bill Supporting Critical Infrastructure, Energy Projects in Maine

Legislation appropriates funding to support harbor maintenance, offshore wind projects like UMaine’s Aqua Ventus, and a pilot program to consolidate nuclear waste

Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — With the support of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate today passed the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, bipartisan legislation that funds U.S. Department of Energy programs and critical water infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation, which appropriates $355 million more in funding than the Fiscal Year 2016 enacted level, will continue to support projects in Maine related to renewable energy, research, energy efficiency, and infrastructure such as harbor dredging.

Importantly, the legislation provides more than $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, and includes a recommendation that $40 million be allocated to the offshore wind demonstration program. The University of Maine leads the Aqua Ventus project, which participates in the project and could potentially benefit from the funding if allocated. Senator King urged the Appropriations Committee to include this language during its markup of the bill.

“This legislation makes strong investments in our nation’s energy future, bolsters commerce and public safety through waterway development and maintenance, and continues to support research and infrastructure projects across Maine,” Senator King said. “From harbor dredging along the state’s coast to supporting the University of Maine’s innovative Aqua Ventus project to hopefully finding a solution that can finally move the nuclear waste out of Wiscasset, this bill makes significant headway for Maine and the country.”

The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act will fund U.S. Department of Energy programs and critical infrastructure projects administered by both the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation for Fiscal Year 2017. The $37.5 billion overall funding is $355 million more than in Fiscal Year 2016, and $261 million above the President’s budget request. Other provisions in the bill of particular importance to Maine include:

  • More than $214 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and $50 million for the State Energy Program. WAP provides grants to states in order to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families, and the State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to state energy offices to help them advance their clean energy economy while contributing to national energy goals.
  • $325 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which provides grant funding for high-risk, high-reward type energy research, and has supported research initiatives at the University of Maine in the past.
  • A pilot program for consolidated nuclear waste storage, which, if successful, could potentially help expedite the long-overdue removal of nuclear waste from Maine Yankee out of Wiscasset. Senator King has pressed Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to develop a long-term strategy to safely transport and store waste from retired nuclear power plants, like Maine Yankee.
  • $106 million from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to go toward maintenance at our nation’s harbors, including the various small ports and harbors along Maine’s coast that rely on federal support for maintenance dredging.
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