KEY VOTE: "NO" on the American Energy Innovation Act of 2020 (S. 2657)

KEY VOTE: Senate · Mar 3, 2020

Heritage Action opposes the American Energy Innovation Act of 2020 (S. 2657) and will include it as a vote on our legislative scorecard.

This week, the Senate will consider the American Energy Innovation Act of 2020 (S. 2657), introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). This legislation includes parts of over 50 bills passed out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last year.

Contrary to the bill’s title, this 555-page energy package does not spur American energy innovation, but rather regurgitates many of the failed policies enacted under the Energy Policy Act that Congress passed 15 years ago. According to a recent piece written by The Heritage Foundation policy analysts Nicolas Loris and Katie Tubb:

It [S. 2657] includes regulatory energy-efficiency mandates, subsidies for specific energy technologies (fossil, renewable, and nuclear), increased government intervention in energy markets masked as federal research and development, expanded loan guarantees, public-private partnerships where taxpayer resources don’t belong, and taxpayer-funded job-training programs.

A serious innovation bill would strike a true “all of the above” approach to energy by expediting permits for all energy projects; reducing regulatory burdens on domestic energy companies; expanding access on federal land for exploration and production of oil and natural gas; finishing the review of Yucca Mountain and reforming nuclear waste policy; and eliminating loan guarantees and tax credits, rebate programs, government mandates like the Renewable Fuel Standard, and workforce-training programs for politically connected industries.

Unfortunately, the American Energy Innovation Act moves energy policy backwards by picking winners and losers in the industry. It subsidizes energy sources including wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and carbon capture and by mandating energy efficiency standards that will both waste taxpayer dollars and increase costs for consumers and homeowners. It would grow the size and the influence of the Department of Energy (DOE) in activities best left for the private sector, such as improving manufacturing processes or trying to improve the economic viability of solar technologies.

Some specific examples include expanding the size and scope of the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which has proven to be a wasteful, unnecessary, and duplicative program that the Trump administration called to eliminate. It also expands energy efficiency programs under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) that have proven to be wasteful and duplicative. Lastly, it mistakenly expands the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) whose mandates led to three-hour dishwasher cycles to save eight cents of hot water.

The DOE’s spending on carbon capture has already wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, and the federal government’s workforce training programs have had little success.

Instead of doubling down on failed government-driven energy programs of the past, Congress should work with the Trump administration to free up the U.S. domestic energy sector and continue this blue-collar boom.

The Heritage Foundation: Senate’s ‘Energy Innovation’ Bill Wasteful, Redundant
The Heritage Foundation: A Misguided Approach to Nuclear Power in ‘Energy Innovation’ Bill
The Heritage Foundation: More Power to the States Will Enhance US Energy Dominance
The Heritage Foundation: Clean coal is dead, but the war on affordable energy is alive and well
The Heritage Foundation: Bureaucrats rarely give consumers what they want
Heritage Action: Key Vote: “NO” on ARPA-E Act of 2018 (H.R. 5906)
Heritage Action: Key Vote: "NO" On the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill

Heritage Action opposes the American Energy Innovation Act of 2020 (S. 2657) and will include it as a vote on our legislative scorecard.