114th Congress: Promoting Energy Growth and Securing Our Environment
by John Cornyn on December 28, 2016 at 12:49 PM
During the 114th Congress, major pieces of legislation were enacted to help speed up a plan to protect the Texas Gulf Coast, end the outdated ban on exporting crude oil, and reform the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Texas Coastal Protection in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) (Passed House 12/8/16, passed Senate 12/10/16, became law 12/16/16)
- Includes a major provision from Senator Cornyn’s COAST Act to help streamline the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ coastal surge protection study along Texas’ upper Gulf Coast.
- Requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take into consideration certain studies already developed by the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District (GCCPRD) while completing its Coastal Texas Protection & Restoration Study.
Ending of the Crude Oil Export Ban (Passed the Senate as part of the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill 12/16/15, passed the House 6/8/16, became law 6/22/16)
- Lifts the 40-year ban on the export of crude oil, put in place during the 1973 Arab oil embargo.
- Will reduce global reliance on countries like Russia and Iran for energy needs.
Toxic Substances Control Act (Passed House 6/23/15, passed Senate 12/17/15, became law 6/22/16)
- Provides the EPA with direct tools to obtain testing information on chemical substances, improving the former lengthy process
- Restructures the way existing chemicals are evaluated and regulated by prioritizing scientific evaluations.
- Encourages transparency at the EPA regarding trade secrets and scientific decision making.
Energy Improvement Act of 2015 (Passed Senate 3/27/15, passed House 4/21/15, became law 4/30/15)
- Establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption.
- Exempts certain electrical resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending Department of Energy regulation.
- Requires federal agencies to coordinate with OMB, DOE, and EPA to develop and implantation strategy for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy saving technologies.
Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (Passed Senate 3/3/16, passed House 6/8/16, became law 6/22/16)
- Reauthorizes the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through 2019.
- Requests an assessment of Integrity Management programs for natural gas and liquid pipelines.
- Encourages PHMSA to investigate and report on advanced mapping technologies for pipeline networks.
- Ensure coordination and collaboration on research, development, and technology between PHMSA, industry and public sector stakeholders.
National Park Service Centennial Act (Passed House 12/6/16, passed Senate 12/10/16, became law 12/16/16)
- Establishes a Centennial Challenge Fund to help maximize private donations to our National Parks, as well as a National Park Foundation Endowment.
- Makes needed changes to the National Park Foundation structure to ensure leadership continuity and establish annual appropriations for non-administrative purposes.
- Eliminates barriers for Public Lands Corps participants to gain federal appointment and promotes Tribal participation on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.