- - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

President Trump recently announced the framework for his infrastructure plan and I applaud him for not only recognizing the need to improve all facets of our nation’s infrastructure but for also demonstrating the leadership needed to push forward this major initiative.

Knowing that the president cares deeply about this issue and the opportunity for bipartisan progress, improving our nation’s infrastructure has been a focal point of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s work since the beginning of the 115th Congress.

Here at the committee, infrastructure means more than roads and bridges; it means examining solutions to expand, improve and modernize our energy infrastructure so that we can deliver energy to consumers more safely, reliably and cost-effectively. It’s a multifaceted approach to energy and the economy. It means focusing our efforts on the ways in which we can deploy broadband internet access to all areas of the country regardless of location. It means ensuring our pipeline distribution system and grid are well equipped to deal with both physical and cyber threats. It means streamlining the approval and siting processes for new pipeline and hydropower projects. It’s all about rolling back the impediments to economic growth while ensuring we’re well equipped to handle the infrastructure demands of today and the future.

To date, the Energy and Commerce Committee has held 48 infrastructure-related hearings, and we’ve had 24 energy infrastructure bills pass the House of Representatives addressing pipeline and electric transmission lines infrastructure, hydropower licensing, Brownfields, air quality standards, and energy efficiency. Several other solutions, like H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, and H.R. 3387, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, have received overwhelming bipartisan support in the committee. Additionally, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee reviewed 25 infrastructure bills at a legislative hearing back in January.

While we’ve accomplished a great deal thus far, our efforts are far from over. We will continue to explore additional legislative opportunities to modernize our infrastructure. In fact, the Energy Subcommittee recently held a legislative hearing on four bipartisan bills aimed at equipping the Department of Energy with the tools they need to address physical energy emergencies and cybersecurity threats.

An often-overlooked and important component to modernizing the nation’s energy infrastructure is recognizing the increasingly interconnected nature of our energy systems and changing how we prepare for and respond to emergencies that threaten the supply of energy. In fact, Energy Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton has recently introduced a bill, the Pipeline and LNG Facility Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, which would require Energy Secretary Rick Perry to coordinate between federal agencies, states, and the energy sector to ensure the security, resiliency and survivability of natural gas pipelines, hazardous liquid pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities.

I’d also like to point out that thanks to our efforts on tax reform, several companies have redirected their savings and made additional investments in infrastructure and jobs. A more competitive regulatory environment is exactly what we intended when we worked on tax reform and I’m glad to see the benefits coming to fruition.

Here at the Energy and Commerce Committee we will continue to explore all opportunities to get these solutions enacted into law while continuing to work with the administration as we work towards our mutually exclusive goal of modernizing the nation’s energy infrastructure.

Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican, is Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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