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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 27, 2022
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Energy Bill for Territories Passes Congressional Committee

Legislation to get technical help to the territories to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, according to a statement from Delegate Donna M. Christensen’s office.

The bill HR 83, sponsored by Christensen and co-sponsored by the other territorial delegates, was voted out of committee by unanimous consent. Companion legislation is in the Senate Omnibus Territories bill, which is currently before the Senate Energy and Resources Committee, Christensen’s office said.

The House bill requires the secretary of the Interior Department to assemble a team of technical, policy and financial experts to address the energy needs of the insular areas of the United States and the Freely Associated States through the development of action plans. It also requires technical assistance on the increased use of indigenous clean energy resources.

“This bill directs assistance to the short-term needs of our community as well as to ensuring that, when the transitions are made, we will be putting together the right mix of fuel sources that will provide the most efficient electricity at the lowest possible costs," Christensen said during the hearing.

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Christensen said energy costs in the territory are five times the national average, a cost that is unsustainable and crippling to the economy and the health and safety of the community.

“Despite our challenges and obstacles, our territories are diligently working to identify opportunities to promote a diverse portfolio of energy options,” she told the panel. “Still this bill is extremely necessary, as it recognizes the need for immediate, short-term action.”

The bill received bipartisan support last week, with Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) calling the bill “common sense legislation” and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) also expressing support.

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D – Calif.) said it “is precisely the kind of legislation we should be working on. The bill enhances energy security and expands renewable energy generation. It is a win for the island states and U.S. territories that it will assist.”

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