On The Hill

Energy Update (June 22)

Jun 22, 2020 | SHARE  
Pelosi Announces Infrastructure Bill
On Thursday (Jun. 18), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other committee leaders announced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that would provide significant new funding for roads, bridges, highways, transit, clean energy, drinking water, and other priorities.
The “Moving Forward Act” would spend $300 billion on roads and bridges, $100 billion on transit, $75 billion on clean energy, $40 billion on wastewater, and $25 billion on drinking water.
“When people see the legislation, and people see how it does affect their areas — this is not just a matter of transportation, it’s a matter of clean air, clean water,” Pelosi said at the press conference.
“So, we think that this will be nonpartisan, very bipartisan, and we look forward to working together — House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and the White House” she added.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has scheduled three days of floor debate on the measure – from June 30 to July 2 – after the chamber considers police reform legislation and before members leave for the July Fourth recess.
The infrastructure package includes robust provisions to update the electrical grid to accommodate clean energy, as well as update drinking water infrastructure. Both provisions have worked their way through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The $70 billion in the package to accommodate and expand renewable energy is more than double the $34.3 billion that House Democrats set aside in an infrastructure framework released in January.[1]
At the news conference, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said, “I really want to stress that this is a green bill, a clean energy bill.” He also noted jobs in the clean energy sector have been “wiped out by the pandemic.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said the package is, “the largest tax investment in combating climate change that Congress has ever made on the renewable front.” Although there is not information available on what those investments are, aides have indicated the renewable provisions will mirror the broad clean energy package known as the “GREEN Act.”
The “GREEN Act” would revisit the terms of the 2015 law that phased down the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit, revive energy efficiency credits, and credits for purchasing electric vehicles. The discussion draft from November 2019 would extend the carbon capture and sequestration 45Q credit and extend the master limited partnership tax treatment from fossil fuels to renewables.
The newly proposed infrastructure legislation will also contain $35 billion for health care infrastructure, $100 billion for broadband, and is expected to have funding to upgrade schools and public housing.[2]
Neal said the legislation could be paid for with bonding and deficit spending.
To view a fact sheet on the legislation, click here.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Marathon Markup
On Thursday (Jun. 18), the House Transportation Committee voted along party lines (35-25) to advance the “INVEST in America Act,” which would authorize $494 billion over five years for surface transportation programs. The committee spent all day Wednesday and Thursday (Jun. 17 & 18) marking up the bill.
Both parties spent the first day of the markup sparring over amendments.
Republicans on the committee said Democrats had broken a long-standing tradition of drafting bipartisan highway bills. Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) expressed his frustration throughout the hearing, and said, “Believe it or not, Republicans don’t automatically oppose addressing these issues.”[3]
“But many of us do oppose the way this particular bill goes about it — through overreaching and heavy-handed mandates. There is a difference between addressing the issue and transforming every single core infrastructure program into a climate change program,” he added.
The second day went smoother, but tensions continued to run high. After the final vote, Graves said the process had been “hijacked by leadership,” and urged members to keep the committee as bipartisan as possible.
The committee adopted multiple amendments, including ones on child labor and EV charging infrastructure, contracts and state-owned enterprises, mapping app data, mitigation programs, traffic record assessments, the zero-emmission bus program, and “Buy America” requirements.[4]
To view the full markup of the “INVEST in America Act,” click here.
Republican Alternative?
During the House Transportation markup, Graves offered an amended Republican substitute, called the “STARTER Act.” According to House Transportation Republicans, this bill reflects their surface transportation principles.
According to Graves, their bill would reauthorize funding for the surface transportation program for the next five years before expiration in September.
“The STARTER Act is a reasonable, commonsense approach to improving our infrastructure that focuses on state flexibility, reasonable regulation reform, traditional core transportation needs, preparing our system for future transportation technologies, and a greater emphasis on rural America’s often neglected infrastructure needs,” Graves said.
To view the bill’s legislative text, click here.
To view a section by section summary, click here.
On Wednesday (Jun. 17), the Senate passed the “Great American Outdoors Act” by a vote of 73-25. The legislation would permanently provide $900 million in oil and gas revenues for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and up to $6.5 billion toward addressing the maintenance backlog at national parks.
“Permanent LWCF funding will help improve access to public lands, including providing important access for hunting and fishing opportunities, and will ensure the program remains an important contributor to a strong and growing outdoor recreation economy that will benefit state and local economies throughout our nation,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) said in a floor speech.
Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Steve Daines (R-MT) both face tough re-elections in November and championed the bill. “This is an economic and jobs package as much as it is a conservation package,” Gardner said, touting it as a potential economic stimulus. Additionally, he said the package would create 100,000 jobs and assist local communities around public lands.
The bill has support from President Trump, but still has to pass the House. House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) said the main parts of the bill have bipartisan backing. “It’s a little premature to talk about exact timing given the enormity of the issues our country is facing right now, but I’m very optimistic we can get this done,” Grijalva said in a statement.[5]
Offshore Drilling
On Monday (Jun. 15), a bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers asked Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to discuss whether Interior was planning to release a new offshore drilling proposal, and whether it would support a permanent ban on drilling in federal waters off the state’s coast.
Last week, Politico reported that the department planned to release a proposal after the November election. The report said Interior’s plans would call for the opening of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling, a proposal many Florida voters oppose.[6]
“Despite that vote and the economic and environmental damage left by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, it appears that the Department of the Interior (DOI) is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coasts shortly after the November 2020 election,” the letter says.
“As representatives from Florida, we are asking for clarification on DOI’s plans for drilling off the coasts of our state,” lawmakers added.
To view the letter, click here.
[1] Joselow, Maxine; Dillon, Jeremy; Koss, Geof. “Energy, climate key to Dems sweeping infrastructure bill.” E&E News PM, 18 Jun. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/456fa760/YkjdpcJaLkqEmrHVFKwFMw?u=https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/stories/1063412351/search?keyword=transportation
[2] Wolf, Kathryn. “House Readies $1.5T ‘infrastructure’ plan including education, broadband, housing.” Politico Pro, 18 Jun. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/91e88586/bvvNNJOjeUeHmzznX7gVGA?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/06/house-readies-15t-infrastructure-plan-including-education-broadband-housing-1953851


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