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Senate Considers FAA Reauthorization this Week, Amendments Worth Watching

Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

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Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

The Senate is scheduled to take up the FAA Reauthorization bill this week so they can send it to the House for a vote before the FAA’s May 10th authorization deadline. There are attempts by a few Senators to add additional provisions to the package through amendment as the bill is seen as one of the last trains leaving the station this year. The FAA reauthorization is a “must pass” piece of legislation, so getting language into the bill is a way of guaranteeing it will become law. The Senate has yet to decide what amendments will be allowed to be considered, and there is a robust back-and-forth debate on what should be allowed. The Senate will need to be careful not to include anything that could make the larger package more difficult to pass in the House.

                There are a number of provisions of note for our sector, with their fate tied to this decision. The “Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2024 is a compromise between two separate but similar nuclear energy bills from the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Environment and Public Works committees that would speed up the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process and streamline the advancement of next-generation reactors. This regulatory change will be necessary to allow for the development of next-generation reactors, which many believe will be a necessary component of the power mix in the coming decades.

                There may also be an effort by Republican Senator Marshall from Kansas to get a vote on his proposal to promote sustainable aviation fuels. The amendment would establish a public-private partnership to identify research areas for SAF production and would determine regulatory changes needed to the Clean Fuel Production tax credits and the Inflation Reduction Act to support development. The Amendment does not call for adaptation of any particular fuel mix or process.

                Also of note to EWTC members, Senator Whitehouse introduced an amendment similar to his bill “Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems Act,” which would establish a revenue-sharing system for offshore wind energy development, allowing states to recover up to half of their wind revenues and use them for coastal restoration efforts. If passed, this could encourage states to push for new oil and gas and offshore lease sales as they two are now tied together per a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act.

AI Adaptation in Oil and Gas Projected to Grow Significantly in Coming Years

                A recent study by projects that artificial intelligence in the oil and gas industry is expected to be a global market worth $6 billion by 2028. Much of this development is occurring in Houston, and much of it is led by EWTC member companies. The report projects that the current value of AI in oil and gas is $3.2 billion in 2023 and will rise to $3.62 billion in 2024 and hit between $5.8-$6 billion by 2028. Digitalization and adaptation of AI allow greater efficiencies across the sector, allowing more energy to be produced quicker and with lower emissions. At the same time, the growing use of AI and the data centers and infrastructure needed to support the technology continue to cause dramatic increases in power demand projection for the coming years. These dueling demands, the need for greater efficiencies and the infrastructure to support them will likely be a constant theme for our sector in the next decade.

Tim Tarpley, Energy Workforce President, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.



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