CA congressman submits bipartisan request for US-Israeli energy cooperation funds

Request paves path for future US-Israel Center for dialogue and technology transfer in the energy sector.

Congressman Brad Sherman. (photo credit: US LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/WIKIMEDIA)
Congressman Brad Sherman.
With the bipartisan support of 106 legislators, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-California) has submitted a request to the House Committee on Appropriations for $2 million toward American- Israeli cooperation in the energy sector, his office announced on Wednesday.
Sherman, together with Congressmen Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Peter King (R-New York), Peter Roskam (R-Illinois), Eliot Engel (D-New York) and Ted Deutch (D-Florida), drafted a letter to the committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, asking that the funds be provided for the implementation of the US-Israel Energy Cooperative Agreement in the fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
In the United States, fiscal year 2016 runs from October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016.
Sherman’s appropriations request garnered the highest number of signatories since the creation of the energy cooperation program in 2008, according to a statement drafted by his deputy chief of staff, Ben Fishel.
While Sherman wrote the US-Israel Energy Cooperation Act in 2005, Congress ultimately enacted the legislation as a section of a larger energy reform bill, the Energy Independence and Security Act, in December 2007, the statement said.
The cooperation program created as a result aims to leverage matching contributions from the Israeli government, as well as bring in investments from the Israeli and American private sectors, Sherman’s office explained.
Thus far, the program has received $23.4m. from the US and Israeli governments ($11.7m. from each) and has raised more than $27m. from the private sector.
“The US-Israel Energy Cooperation Program continues to spur and advance new and innovative energy projects,” said Sherman. “This tremendous bipartisan support is a clear indication that Congress supports funding for this program from both sides of the aisle. Just last year the House also voted to expand this program into water technology, an important area for California and many other states.
I will work with the administration on further boosting funding for this program in future budgets.”
The cooperation program funds joint research and development in the private sector, with projects thus far including advancements in hydroelectric power, reduction of energy consumption in water treatment, energy optimization for manufacturers, wind energy storage, decreasing fuel consumption, noise control for distributed power generation and minimization of carbon dioxide emissions for tractor trailers.
Sherman’s office emphasized that his appropriations request comes at a time when the US is increasingly focused on energy security.
In the letter to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Sherman likewise emphasized the importance of allocating the funds, in light of recent relevant legislation passed regarding Israel- US energy cooperation.
After gaining the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 was signed into law by President Barack Obama at the end of December. A key component to this act was the reauthorization of the cooperative energy program through 2024, Sherman stressed.
Chiefly responsible for the passage of the United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Enhancement legislation, which eventually became part of the larger United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, were chairman of the House Energy Committee Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and the former chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Mary Landrieu. A three-term Democratic senator for Louisiana, Landrieu was defeated in a runoff with Republican Bill Cassidy in early December.
This legislation officially recognized energy cooperation between the two countries, as well as encouraged collaboration between the United States National Science Foundation and the Israel Science Foundation, and between the academic and private sectors.
In addition to promoting new collaborations, the legislation also ensured the reauthorization of existing programs, and paved the way for a future US-Israel Center based in the US for further dialogue and technology transfer in the energy sector.