View from a West Virginia mountaintop of fall foliage and fog in the valley.
West Virginia ALLEGHENY FRONT AND EASTERN CONTINENTAL DIVIDE, WV. © Kent Mason

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Energy Infrastructure Act Offers Important Investments for Environmental Priorities

A good first step, with hopefully more to come.

Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Energy Infrastructure Act, which was introduced by committee Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.V., earlier this year.

The bill contains important investments in clean energy, forest and wildfire management, ecosystem restoration, and solutions for western water supply challenges and drought resilience. It passed through committee with bipartisan support, a 13-7 vote with three Republicans voting for the bill.

“The Energy Infrastructure Act represents a critical down payment on avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, drought, wildfires and other environmental challenges,” said Kameran Onley, director of North American Policy and Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy. “We have a drought crisis in the West, as well as a continued need to ensure our forests are healthy and that we minimize damage from wildfires. We also need a real, substantive reduction in carbon emissions. To achieve these goals, we need to deploy a variety of solutions across the economy. This bill is a good bipartisan step in that direction.”

The bill would help support:

  • Grid modernization and resilience
  • Last-mile decarbonization technology including carbon capture, utilization and storage and related infrastructure
  • Carbon removal through direct air capture
  • Development of solar and other clean energy on former mine lands
  • Drought resilience and sustainable water supply solutions
  • Water conservation as well as healthy rivers, fish, and wildlife
  • Reduction of methane emissions with a program to cap orphaned natural gas wells
  • Energy efficiency programs that not only reduce emissions but also costs to end users
  • Improved hydroelectric dam safety, efficiency, and environmental performance

“We’re encouraged by this bill and hope the final infrastructure package includes and builds on this work,” said Onley. “Meeting the energy and natural resource needs of our country while supporting our communities, growing the economy and addressing the climate crisis is a big job, but an achievable and necessary one. We appreciate Senator Manchin’s leadership, and look forward to working with him and other lawmakers to advance infrastructure legislation this year that includes many of today’s provisions and makes further progress toward these important goals.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.