WASHINGTON – The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today approved three pieces of legislation: the Solar Fuels Innovation Act (H.R. 5638); the Electricity Storage Innovation Act (H.R. 5640); and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act (H.R. 5636). All three bills were favorably reported out of Committee by voice vote.
The Solar Fuels Innovation Act, introduced by Energy Subcommittee Vice Chairman Stephen Knight (R-Calif.), authorizes the Secretary of Energy to carry out a $100 million basic research initiative to foster scientific discovery in advanced chemistry for the eventual development of solar fuels systems. The process of creating fuels from the sun, also known as artificial photosynthesis and photosynthesis replication, relies heavily on the fundamental study of chemistry and materials science by the DOE Office of Science. This legislation also authorizes translational research in solar fuels, focusing the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) on early-stage R&D that will not be undertaken by the private sector, and provides accountability to ensure limited federal research funds are used responsibly. H.R. 5638 directs the Department of Energy to conduct this research using existing funds in the DOE Office of Science and EERE.
Rep. Stephen Knight (R-Calif.): “H.R. 5638 reaffirms the federal government’s key role in research and development. My home state of California has long been a world leader in advanced science and high tech and is home to millions of entrepreneurs eager to take advantage of the latest breakthroughs. Through this initiative, the transformative discoveries in energy science achieved at our universities and national labs will give the private sector the tools they need to develop the next breakthrough in solar energy technology.”
The Electricity Storage Innovation Act, introduced by full Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), authorizes the Secretary of Energy to carry out a $100 million basic research initiative in the chemistry and materials sciences necessary for advanced electricity storage systems. H.R. 5640 directs the Department of Energy to also conduct this research using existing funds in the DOE Office of Science and EERE.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “H.R. 5640, the Electricity Storage Innovation Act, provides important statutory authority and direction for the Department of Energy’s groundbreaking basic research in electricity storage. Breakthroughs in electricity storage are one of the next frontiers in our energy future. Innovations leading to advanced, next generation batteries could help bring affordable electric and renewable energy to the market without costly subsidies or mandates.
“By investing in the basic scientific research that will lead to advanced battery technology, we can enable utilities to store and deliver power produced elsewhere on demand. This will allow us to take advantage of energy from all our diverse natural resources.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act, sponsored by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), addresses the security and protection of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) facilities and employees. In the past year, a now former NIST police officer, who was previously the acting chief of police at the Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus caused an explosion while attempting to manufacture methamphetamine. In addition, at the Boulder, Colorado, campus, an individual with no identification that was not a NIST employee was found in a secure NIST building where he could have been exposed to potentially hazardous, poisonous chemicals.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.): “This legislation is an important example of how Congressional oversight works. Being able to ‘check on and check the Executive’ allows Congress to step in when an agency is lacking in efficiency and effectiveness to ensure adequate measures are taken and taxpayer dollars are protected.
“This bill directs the Department of Commerce Office of Security to get involved in the law enforcement and security programs at NIST. In addition, it enlists the GAO to produce an analysis on the performance and efficiency of NIST security in its current state and make recommendations on how to improve security on its campuses. I look forward to working with my colleagues to mark up this bill. It is important for us to take action to ensure accountability and effective security at one of our nation’s oldest physical science laboratories.“