Environmental Policy News

New Legislation Introduced to Spur Growth in Ocean-Based Energy

US Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Dan Newhouse (WA-04) introduced the Blue Ocean Energy Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation to redouble America’s efforts to reassert the US as the global leader in the research and development of ocean-based technologies, also known as blue energy technologies.

“Washington has led the national charge to develop blue energy—utilizing marine energy resources right here in our region that can help provide clean power to coastal communities, drive economic development, and create and grow jobs in our region,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Now is the time to take action to put those efforts in overdrive. With tremendous assets like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim, which houses the only marine research facilities in the Department of Energy complex, and a unique and thriving maritime sector, this bipartisan legislation can help Washington state become the global leader in driving innovation and sustainability, creating blue economy jobs, and fighting the climate crisis.”

“The Blue Ocean Energy Innovation Act invests in renewable energy technologies that capitalize on our region’s unique, low-cost ‘blue energy,” said Rep. Newhouse. “By utilizing our marine energy resources, we can reassert the United States as a dominant player in the global energy market, create jobs, drive economic development, and continue groundbreaking research in the ocean and water sciences for decades to come.”

Over the past decade, the Department of Energy (DOE) has significantly contributed to the advancement of energy technologies critical for the 21st-century economy. These efforts have spurred job creation, addressed climate change, and facilitated the production of clean, reliable energy. Despite these achievements, further progress is needed to enhance renewable energy technologies.

Washington has been at the forefront of the Blue Economy, which focuses on technologies and economic development tied to oceans and waterways. It has been particularly proactive in developing renewable energy technologies that utilize the cost-effective and decarbonizing potential of water, known as ‘blue energy.’ Additionally, it has pioneered the development of renewable energy technologies in marine settings. A significant portion of this innovation has occurred at the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) in Sequim, which is unique within the DOE system for its marine research facilities.

The Blue Ocean Energy Innovation Act aims to:

  • Introduce the Integrated Blue Economy and Blue Energy Technologies Program, led by the Secretary of Energy, which boosts innovation in ocean energy technology. This includes improving the deployment of advanced renewable technologies in water-based environments, supporting decarbonization efforts, and generating employment within the blue economy sector.
  • Establish a Blue Economy Center of Excellence to facilitate this comprehensive program. The Center will enhance coordination among various entities, including the DOE’s offices, national laboratories, research institutions, state governments, and other federal agencies, all working together towards a common goal of decarbonization and renewable energy advancement.
  • Allocate resources for the development or enhancement of a cutting-edge facility for the Blue Economy Center of Excellence, leveraging the infrastructure already available in national laboratories.
  • Foster better collaboration between agencies to expedite the research and development process for these technologies.
  • Mandate that the DOE provides Congress with detailed reports on the allocation of funds for blue energy technologies across its various offices and programs.

The Blue Ocean Energy Innovation Act is endorsed by the Clallam County Economic Development Council, North Olympic Development Council, and Washington Maritime Blue.

“The vast coastlines of our nation team with opportunity that needs entrepreneurs are waiting to pursue,” said Collen McAleer, Executive Director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council. “The Blue Ocean Energy Innovation Act will act as the necessary spark to move the vast potential to fruition and create good jobs that are so needed in the many areas of our more rural communities and tribal areas.”

“The Blue Ocean Energy Innovation Act, supported by Washington State Reps. Kilmer and Newhouse, marks a critical milestone for our nation's Blue Economy. With its focus on harnessing ocean energy, deploying next-generation renewable technologies, and driving decarbonization efforts, the Act will not only benefit our coastal communities but also create jobs across the ocean and maritime ecosystems.” said Joshua Berger, President & CEO of Washington Maritime Blue. “We are excited to see this Act support the establishment of the Blue Economy Center of Excellence and the Blue Energy Technologies Program. The Act will unlock the potential for research, development, and collaboration that utilizes existing infrastructures like that of our partners at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory-Sequim facilities. We are thankful for the leadership of Washington Representatives Kilmer and Newhouse in putting this Act forward, which exemplifies our region's commitment to the Blue Economy.”

“The North Olympic Development Council (NODC) is excited to support the Blue Energy Innovation Act,” said Karren Affeld, Executive Director of the North Olympic Development Council. “The Blue Economy is a vital part of the Olympic Peninsula economy, with hundreds of maritime businesses generating hundreds of millions in revenue and creating high-wage jobs. The potential for expanding the sector to include innovative Blue Energy technologies is tremendous. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory in Sequim is an incredible resource. NODC is currently a collaborator on a PNNL Marine Renewable Energy feasibility study and there are many other opportunities for Blue Energy research and development on the Peninsula. Additional funding to support this kind of innovation is an important step in developing this sector of our economy.”

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