February 14, 2022

Kilmer, Newhouse Introduce Legislation to Spur Growth in Blue Energy, Create Jobs in Washington

Tacoma, WA – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Dan Newhouse (WA-04) introduced the Blue Energy Innovation Act – bipartisan legislation which aims to redouble America’s efforts to harness the blue economy and reassert the United States as the global leader in the research and development of blue energy technologies.

Over the last decade, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has made strides in developing energy technologies that are essential for powering the 21st-century economy, creating jobs, combatting climate change, and generating clean and reliable energy. However, there is still more to be done to advance renewable energy technologies.

In recent years, Washington has led the way on the Blue Economy – technologies and economic development tied to its ocean and waterways. It has also led the charge in advancing renewable energy technologies that capitalize on water’s low-cost energy (also known as ‘blue energy’) and decarbonization potential, and developing new renewable energy technologies in marine environments. Much of that innovation in Washington has happened at the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Sequim – which houses the only marine research facilities in the DOE system.

The bipartisan Blue Energy Innovation Act aims to help DOE leverage resources across relevant federal agencies, national laboratories (like PNNL-Sequim), and other partners, to develop the cutting-edge technologies that will improve the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of activities tied to the blue economy.

“The blue economy in 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 on 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 can become a global leader in driving innovation and sustainability, creating blue economy jobs, and fighting the climate crisis.”

“Renewable energy plays a critically-important role in our nation's energy portfolio and is a key source of power in Central Washington. We are blessed to have a diverse mix of clean and renewable energy sources in the region—including hydropower and nuclear energy—making Central Washington a great example of utilizing an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy,” said Rep. Newhouse. “The Blue Energy Innovation Act expands upon this strategy by investing in research to harness 'blue-energy' technologies developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of our country's foremost national laboratories and a major economic driver in the State of Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest. I am proud to introduce this legislation which supports this critical, groundbreaking research and capitalizes on our region’s unique expertise in ocean and water sciences. This work will benefit the entire country while creating local jobs and stimulating economic growth in our region.”

“Washington state is a national leader in the growing Blue Economy, and our innovation cluster partners are ideally positioned to help deliver invaluable contributions that will expand our global position,” said Joshua Berger, Founder & President/CEO of Washington Maritime Blue. “Our consortium is working to Build Back Blue through green energy to charge the blue economy. Partners such as Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory in Sequim, are ideally positioned to help deliver invaluable contributions in developing clean energy while building a job creation engine for the future.”

“The Pacific Northwest National Lab’s assets in Sequim has always been considered a remarkable yet under-developed economic resource for Sequim and our economically distressed county. This legislation will allow us to finally leverage this unparalleled resource to create high wage jobs for our local citizens,” said Colleen McAleer, Executive Director of the Clallam Economic Development Council. “Our community looks forward to partnering with the lab to bring this to fruition.” 

The Blue Energy Innovation Act aims to capitalize on the effort to drive innovation in blue energy technologies in Washington and across the country by establishing the Blue Economy Center of Excellence and a cross-cutting blue energy technologies program under the DOE to advance research and development of these renewable energy technologies.

Specifically, the bill will:

  • Establish the Integrated Blue Economy and Blue Energy Technologies Program, under which the Secretary of Energy will provide $75 million in supplemental funding to advance technological innovation to better harness ocean energy, enhance deployment of next generation renewable technologies in aquatic environments, drive decarbonization efforts, and create jobs across the blue economy.
  • Establish the Blue Economy Center of Excellence to support the new cross-cutting program and help coordinate across DOE offices, national laboratories, research institutions, state governments, and other federal agencies to achieve the shared decarbonization and renewable energy mission.
  • Provide funding to upgrade or create a state-of-the-art facility for the Blue Economy Center of Excellence, taking advantage of existing national laboratory infrastructure.
  • Create opportunity for improved interagency cooperation to accelerate the research and development of these technologies.
  • Require the Department of Energy to report to Congress on all funding for blue energy technologies across its line offices and programs.