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Begich, Snowe Introduce Renewable Energy Research Bill

Legislation to Spur Green Technology Innovation, Create Jobs

Saying it would help reduce the nation's carbon footprint and create jobs and new technology that will benefit Alaska, U. S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) today introduced the Renewable Energy Environmental Research Act of 2009.

"Renewable energy has tremendous potential in Alaska," Sen. Begich said. "In addition to creating jobs, this bill fills a gap in existing climate-energy legislation, helps speed up a transition to domestic low-carbon energy, and encourages scientific advancement."

"As our nation continues to confront volatile energy prices, it is imperative for Congress to advance policies that will encourage innovation which, in turn, will create jobs and reduce harmful emissions that cause global warning," said Sen. Snowe. "By improving internal coordination within NOAA, and providing critical data regarding oceanic and atmospheric conditions from a single, reliable source, this legislation will facilitate the identification and approval of favorable sites for offshore renewable energy production and encourage a swift and efficient transition to a more sustainable energy."

Begich said one example of emerging marine technology this bill would support is a water heat exchanger recently installed at the NOAA Fisheries Lab in Juneau which is estimated to reduce diesel heating fuel use by 80 percent, from 120,000 gallons to 25,000 gallons a year.

The bill directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to implement a research program designed to collect, monitor, and distribute environmental data to assist development of renewable energy, particularly related to ocean energy. Examples of this would be tidal data for use in choosing locations for wave energy infrastructure or time series wind data for siting wind turbines.

The bill would authorize $100 million for program implementation, with up to half this amount eligible to states and educational institutions to carry out renewable energy environmental research.

"With the nation's highest energy cost per capita and most extensive coastline, Alaska stands to benefit significantly from investments in marine renewable energy," Begich said.  "Improving NOAA's ability to provide the observations, forecasts, and climate information tailored to the needs of the renewable energy industry will promote growth of this sector, increase the nation's energy security, and grow jobs."

"As the University of Maine looks to develop deepwater offshore and wind energy technology, the data provided by this program will help alleviate potential conflicts of use of ocean space and ensure that we focus on areas that will produce the greatest benefits at the lowest cost to both the economy and the environment," Snowe added.

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