Energy Update (June 8)
White House Executive Order
On Thursday evening (Jun. 4), the White House released a new executive order that invokes emergency powers to accelerate and waive the environmental review of some infrastructure and energy projects.
The order directs federal officials to waive environmental review for infrastructure projects like pipelines and highways by using emergency authorities in environmental statutes. The order could minimize public comment and community oversight in order to aid economic recovery.
“The need for continued progress in this streamlining effort is all the more acute now, due to the ongoing economic crisis,” President Trump said in the executive order.
“Unnecessary regulatory delays will deny our citizens opportunities for jobs and economic security, keeping millions of Americans out of work and hindering our economic recovery from the national emergency,” he added.
The order directs agency heads to take the “appropriate steps” to use their emergency authorities and take “all reasonable measures” to speed up infrastructure investments. Additionally, it states that the National Environmental Policy Act should allow for flexibility during emergency situations.
To view the executive order, click here.
Low Carbon Push in Recovery Legislation
A group of 57 Senate and House Democrats are urging congressional leaders to include policies to help the clean energy industry as a part of any upcoming economic relief packages. Clean energy sector job losses have topped 600,000 in the past three months.
The letter is led by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), and asks for “robust investments” to spur “national growth and opportunities for community level adoption.”
The letter also asks for an extension of various clean energy tax incentives that have expired or are set to expire in upcoming years, including the production and investment tax credits for wind and solar energy.
“Extending and providing additional flexibility for these credits, which spur production and save money for consumers, is another important facet of a quick recovery,” the lawmakers said.
On Wednesday (Jun. 3), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) threw his support behind the letter.
To view the congressional letter, click here.
Additionally, around 100 clean energy, trade, and environmental groups are pushing congressional leaders to create a $35 billion nonprofit clean energy job fund to help get industry employees back to work.
The push builds on legislation, S. 2057 / H.R. 5416, offered by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). These bills would pair public money with multiple private sector funds for investments in areas including renewable power, building efficiency, electric grid infrastructure, industrial decarbonization, clean transportation, reforestation, and climate resilient infrastructure.
To view the industry letter, click here.
On Thursday (Jun. 4), the Senate moved to advance S. 3422, a bill that would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on the Great American Outdoors Act, moving it closer to a formal vote.
The bill is backed by President Trump and would address a $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at national parks. A bipartisan group of 12 lawmakers have introduced companion legislation in the House.
The bill currently has 58 co-sponsors in the Senate.
Bill Opens Up Carbon Markets to Agriculture
On Thursday (Jun. 4), a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to create a new certification program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help carbon markets function better.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), would make it easier for farms and landowners to participate in carbon markets, and would position agriculture as a prominent part in fighting climate change.
House Dems Release Transportation Bill
On Wednesday (Jun. 3), the House Transportation Committee released the text of its five-year, $494 billion surface transportation proposal, the INVEST in America Act.
The bill provides $411 billion over five years out of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for highway, transit, safety, and research programs. This would be a 46 percent increase over current investment levels. The bill also includes $319 billion for highway investment, $105 billion for transit, $10 billion for passenger/commercial vehicle safety, and $60 billion for rail.
“The INVEST in America Act is our opportunity to replace the outdated systems of the past with smarter, safer, more resilient infrastructure that fits the economy of the future, creates millions of jobs, supports American manufacturing, and restores U.S. competitiveness,” House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said.
To view a fact sheet, click here.
To view a summary, click here.
To view a Section-by-Section, click here.
Hearing Coverage June 1-5
 Brugger, Kelsey; Clark, Lesley; & Richards, Heather. “What Trump’s permit order means for NEPA, energy, and race.” Energywire, 5 Jun. 2020. https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063324751
 Dillon, Jeremy. “57 Democrats demand clean energy policy response.” E&E Daily, 3 Jun. 2020. https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/stories/1063303007/search?keyword=schumer
 Adragna, Anthony. “Groups push Congress for national clean energy jobs fund.” Politico Pro, 5 Jun. 2020. https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/06/groups-push-congress-for-national-clean-energy-jobs-fund-1946760
 Frazin, Rachel. “Senate advances conservation fund bill, House introduces companion.” The Hill, 5 Jun. 2020. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/501247-senate-advances-conservation-bill-house-introduces-companion
 Tamborrino, Kelsey. “Murkowski draws Trump fight.” Morning Energy, 5 Jun. 2020. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-energy/2020/06/05/murkowski-draws-trump-fight-788279