Energy Update (July 27)
On Thursday (Jul. 23), the Senate overwhelmingly passed the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a vote of 86-14. The bill includes increased funding for a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prevention study on PFAS chemicals in drinking water, an expansion of sanctions for the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and funds to increase carbon utilization and direct air capture technology and research.
The measure also requires a three-year process to remove names, monuments, and paraphernalia honoring the Confederacy from military bases and other assets. President Trump has threatened to veto the legislation.
On Friday (Jul. 24), the House approved H.R. 7608, a $259.5 billion spending package that included the Interior-Environment appropriations bill. The legislation was cleared by a vote of 224-189.
This is the first appropriations measure to move through Congress this year.
On Thursday (Jul. 23), lawmakers added more than 100 amendments to the package, including partisan provisions that would bar drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and block a host of Trump administration regulatory efforts. On Friday (Jul. 24), the House adopted an amendment that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing and implementing its national air quality standard for particulate matter or soot.
Energy and Water Development
Lawmakers have submitted over 200 proposed amendments for the House’s second FY 2021 spending package, including Energy-Water, due before the House Rules Committee on Monday (Jul. 27). Thus far, the amendments address the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, energy efficiency, conservation block grants, low emissions buses, and water systems.
The Energy-Water proposal would set aside $49.6 billion for federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers. It would be a $1.3 billion increase from FY 2020 enacted levels.
The House is looking to finish almost all of its FY 2021 spending bills by the end of next week.
COVID-19 Stimulus Package
On Thursday (Jul. 23), seven Senate Republicans wrote a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking him to prioritize assistance for the clean energy sector as the next COVID-19 package is negotiated.
“Federal investments in clean energy have provided strong taxpayer returns, while also providing critical and sustained job growth,” the letter says.
“As we focus on getting the country back to work, we must include an industry that had already been putting Americans to work faster, and in more places, than the overall economy before the COVID pandemic hit.”
The lawmakers said they would like policies in the package that benefit renewables, nuclear, carbon capture, energy efficiency, advanced transportation, and energy storage.
Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Richard Burr (R-NC) signed the letter.
To view the letter, click here.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said stimulus payments, a tax credit for personal protective equipment (PPE) and rehiring workers, and other provisions will be included in the next bill. He also said the next proposal will provide roughly a 70 percent wage replacement compared to what an individual was making before they were laid off before the end of the year.
“We are not going to extend it in a scenario where we’re paying more people to stay home than to work. I think that’s a concept that every American understands. This is about wage replacement. And we don’t want to incentivize people not to work. So we are going to extend it on the basis of wage replacement, it’s approximately at 70 percent of wage replacement. We’re dealing with the mechanical issues associated with that,” Mnuchin said.
Senate Republicans are not planning to unveil their COVID-19 proposal until early next week.
On Wednesday (Jul. 22), the House passed the Great American Outdoors Act on a bipartisan vote of 310-107. The bill will provide mandatory annual funding of $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and billions towards fixing public parks and lands.
The package is ambitious, and lawmakers have described its success as a result of the current alignment of election-year politics.
“It should happen as a consequence of fact and public support — both of these bills are bipartisan — but getting it out of the Senate required a political necessity more than a conservation necessity,” House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) told Politico.
“If it’s seen as somehow good politically for some Republican senators in tight races, that’s the way the (political) alignment ended up happening.”
Before the vote, Trump tweeted, “We MUST protect our National Parks for our children and grandchildren. I am calling on the House to pass the GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT today. Thanks @SenCoryGardner and @SteveDaines for all your work on this HISTORIC BILL!”
To view the bill, click here.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee minority staff released a report Thursday (Jul. 23) warning people across the U.S. could soon have their water, gas, or electric utilities shut off. They noted only 10 states have protections in place to shield all residents from shutoffs.
“Some of the families in communities hardest hit by the coronavirus are now at risk of losing access to the electricity, gas or water services — especially those in economically disadvantaged communities, Indigenous communities and communities of color,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).
“Congress should keep families connected to critical utility service during this crisis.”
Many utilities are facing extra costs associated with protecting their workers during servicing, as well as reconnecting customers who are behind on their bills. Revenue is also down from commercial and industrial businesses.
Utilities are encouraging lawmakers to include relief for the industry in the next COVID-19 response package. Without financial assistance, utilities may have to raise customer rates and delay plans to upgrade aging infrastructure.
Help for utilities could come in the form of more funding for the Low Income Home Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), similar to what was included in the CARES Act, or an extension of the program to include water utilities.
The HEROES Act, passed in May by House Democrats, includes $1.5 billion to help low-income households pay water bills in addition to a moratorium on utility services shutoffs for any entity receiving federal funds.
 Tamborrino, Kelsey. “House on track to pass first minibus.” Morning Energy, 24 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/e3a040ea/cuSqHiv2vkSdLkFBPhYZSg?u=https://www.politico.com/morningenergy/
 Emma, Caitlin. “House passes massive spending bill in bid to thwart election year shutdown.” Politico Pro, 24 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/bea69a22/BTxZmSsD0EGVaoVwI7kycA?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/house-passes-massive-spending-bill-in-bid-to-thwart-election-year-shutdown-1969681
 Adragna, Anthony. “House adds amendments on ANWR and blocking Trump rules.” Politico Pro, 23 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/a35ec316/KLhDT-CVO0a8lGv2NYlRRw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/house-adds-amendments-on-anwr-and-blocking-trump-rules-3982774
 Adragna, Anthony. “GOP block urges McConnell to help clean energy sector.” Politico Pro, 23 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/ad966041/T24txLhHJku3LO8VHj19Uw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/gop-bloc-urges-mcconnell-to-help-clean-energy-sector-3982768
 Adragna, Anthony. “House passes ‘holy grail’ of conservation packages.” Politico Pro, 22 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/1b827e02/Epd-rpz2N0qdnrFEbjWzBA?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/house-passes-holy-grail-of-conservation-packages-1968284
 Snider, Annie & Adragna, Anthony. “Customers in 40 states at risk of water, electricity shutoffs, report says.” Politico Pro, 23 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/7a6aae42/yGeMl8YoLkOCrJzGk1BgcA?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/07/customers-in-40-states-at-risk-of-water-electricity-shutoffs-report-says-1969283
 Dillon, Jeremy & Koss, Geof. “Energy demands add up as GOP struggles with relief bill.” E&E Daily, 24 Jul. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/a26539d7/jk5Pqp0FnkODxx1VqQ9kWQ?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/2020/07/24/stories/1063618039