Week 5: A Tour of the Capitol

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Monday, July 17, 2017


Riley Troyer

Energy storage may not be the most glamorous subject, but I’m certainly learning a lot about it. In fact it’s actually really interesting and incredibly important.

Renewable energy is great and something we should definitely strive for, but it’s a little scary how far we are from actually being able to adopt it on a large scale. Right now one of the biggest limiters is our ability to store the energy, so that it can be used when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.  

For the past week I’ve been researching the history of energy storage in the United States and around the world. It’s an important topic, but not much has actually been written about it. I always thought that batteries were the main source of storage. That is what most of us interact with on a daily basis with our phones, computers, cars, etc. In reality, batteries make up an extremely small portion of our nations energy storage. Many new battery and energy storage technologies are being developed. I look forward to learning about them as I start researching the current state of the field.

The Senate might have been busy this week, but our committee not so much. All of the senators were focused on the big health care bill that you’ve probably heard about. This put energy policy on the backburners, with one exception. Senator Murkowski and Senator Cantwell, the Chairman and Ranking Member of my committee introduced a large, energy and natural resources bill. The bill was first introduced last congress, but due to circumstances it didn’t make it into law. I’m very interested in witnessing the process that gets a bill like this passed. Hopefully I’ll be able to see some of that in the next month.  

Eleanor and I got to spice up the week with our tour of Capitol Hill for the other interns. It was a long day, but we were able to see several different parts of the Hill. We started on the house side by sitting in on a Space Subcommittee hearing about in-space propulsion. This was one of the coolest things I’ve done on the hill as the ranking member of the subcommittee, Rep. Ami Bera, recognized our group during his opening statement. After this we made the long trek across to the Senate side. We then visited my office where we toured our hearing room and one of the staff members gave a quick talk. After lunch we toured the actual Capitol Building, saw all the major sites and even had the Vice-President of the United States walk right by our group!

Everyone else went home after this except Eleanor and I who still had to work. It’s hard to complain, though, since next week congress is in recess and I only work from 10-4. 

Riley Troyer