U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley ( D-Oregon), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced jointly on May 3 that they had introduced legislation to increase domestic production of low-carbon, renewable energy from the natural power in ocean waves, tides, and currents.
The Marine Energy Act (S.-1036) would reauthorize $60 million annually from FY 2018 through FY 2022 for the Department of Energy’s marine renewable energy programs – among them, initiatives at R&D demonstration centers nationwide – including one operated by Oregon State University, and others in Hawaii and Florida.
In addition to authorizing funding, the bill directs the DoE to research how to build a stable marine energy supply chain in the United States and to find ways to ensure that the technology coexists with other types of offshore energy and fisheries.
Indeed, according to a May 5 report by E&E Daily, the Department of Energy estimates that marine energy, also known as ocean wave energy, could produce enough renewable energy to power more than 200 million American homes. The senators say federal funding is key to realizing that potential because the technology is still in the early stages of development.
“By reauthorizing important research programs, we can take a positive step toward unlocking a clean energy future that can not only lower bills, but also help stem the impact of climate change,” Angus King said in a statement.
“Capturing the energy found in ocean waves, tides, and currents right off the Oregon coast means producing more clean energy and more clean energy jobs,” Wyden said. “Marine energy has the potential to provide a nearly inexhaustible source of homegrown renewable electricity to power American homes and businesses while addressing the very real challenge of climate change.”
“Marine energy has the potential to tackle climate change, create jobs, and promote energy independence—all at the same time,” Schatz said. “Passing this bill is a chance for us to explore that full potential through research and development, keeping the United States at the cutting edge of energy technology in a way that is good for our economy.”
The bill passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last year and it was included in a broader, bipartisan energy bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which passed the Senate last April.