House Passes Sinema Amendment to Improve Federal Agency Use of Innovative Technologies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1873, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, including an amendment offered by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09), Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03), Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-04), and Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) to improve Forest Service and the Department of the Interior training on how unmanned technologies are transforming the energy industry to improve maintenance, lower costs and reduce the risk of wildfires.

Congresswoman Sinema spoke on the House floor about her amendment:

Congresswoman Sinema’s full remarks below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Grijalva for your leadership.

Thank you, Congressman LaMalfa and Congressman Schrader for your hard work on this issue.

Thank you to Congressman Tipton, Congressman Gosar, and Congressman O'Halleran for cosponsoring this bipartisan amendment.

Mr. Chairman, the Sinema amendment ensures the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior are educated on how unmanned technologies are transforming the energy industry to improve maintenance, lower costs and reduce the risk of wildfires.

Unmanned technology is changing the way Arizonans do business. Currently, energy companies use manned helicopters to check transmission lines and to direct repair and maintenance crews. This work ensures Arizona’s electric grid is resilient, reliable, and efficient – and that it works when Arizona families and businesses need it.

Utilities and cooperatives believe that unmanned technology will improve the way we manage our energy infrastructure. Unmanned technologies can safely and quickly monitor transmission lines in multiple locations enabling more efficient operations and maintenance, and provide better situational awareness to crews and managers reducing accidents and workplace injuries. This improves vegetation management, disaster prevention and disaster response.

These are critical issues in my home state of Arizona. In rural areas, our transmission and distribution lines run through federal lands that are prone to wildfires. I am a cosponsor of the underlying bill because I recognize the importance of keeping these rights-of-way clear of dry brush and fallen trees.

Streamlining the process that allows us to perform routine maintenance and prevent wildfires that too often endanger our communities is just common sense.

Our bipartisan amendment improves the good underlying bill by ensuring that unmanned technologies can be appropriately, quickly and effectively integrated into broader vegetation management, disaster prevention and disaster response strategies.

Unmanned technologies have the potential to improve efficiency, lower energy costs for Arizona families and businesses, and reduce the risk of dangerous wildfires by ensuring rights-of-way are reliable and well-maintained.

Federal agencies should be prepared to embrace these smart technologies.

I urge my colleagues to support the Sinema amendment and the underlying bill.