Energy Update (October 5)
On Thursday (Oct. 1), the House passed S. 3051, America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, by voice vote. The bill would authorize $1.1 billion in conservation programs.
The legislation was originally negotiated by the leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE).
The bill would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Chesapeake Bay restoration program, and establish programs to fight chronic wasting disease and invasive species. Additionally, it requires federal studies on parts of the Endangered Species Act.
FY 2021 Funding
This week, the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded at current levels through Dec. 11. The president signed the legislation early Thursday (Sep. 30) morning.
Updated HEROES Act
Thursday evening (Oct. 1), the House passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief measure. The bill was approved almost entirely along party lines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spent all week trying to negotiate an agreement. If a stimulus package is not agreed to soon, no aid bill is expected before the Nov. 3 election.
Notably, the bill would provide the Department of Energy (DOE) with $144.3 million to support COVID-19 related activities, as well as $4.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
To view a section by section summary of the updated HEROES Act, click here.
To view a one pager on the updated HEROES Act, click here.
Last week, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) introduced legislation that would work to boost ethanol demand and lower greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The “Next Generation Fuels Act,” H.R. 8371, would require fuels used in automobiles to have high levels of octane and at least 30 percent lower carbon emissions than regular gasoline.
“For the last three and a half years, we have been forced to fight battle after battle and face this Administration’s broken promise after broken promise to ensure our country is meeting the full potential of biofuels,” Bustos said in a statement. “The Next Generation Fuels Act looks toward the future to make sure we bring an environmental lens to biofuels production, in order to increase demand while reducing carbon emissions,” she added.
High-octane fuels can withstand more compression before igniting, and have broad support from the biofuels industry.
On Tuesday (Sep. 29), Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sean Casten (D-IL) introduced legislation to end tax benefits for oil and gas companies.
The “End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act,” H.R. 7781, would remove 11 industry tax breaks, including the enhanced oil recovery credit, the oil depletion alliance, and deductions for intangible drilling costs.
On Friday (Oct. 2), Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced companion legislation to a grid security bill that passed the House last week, H.R. 360.
The Cyber Sense Act would direct the DOE to create a voluntary cybersecurity testing and assistance program for bulk-power equipment. To help electric utilities select secure equipment, the bill would require DOE to maintain a database of the products that it evaluates through its cyber testing program.
To view the Senate legislation, click here.
On Wednesday (Sep. 30), power companies told a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) technical conference that they supported a price on carbon, at least at the regional level. The group said carbon pricing in regional wholesale power markets is a good step to combat climate change and ensure reasonable rates for electricity customers.
Some at the conference wanted FERC to establish a single national price on carbon emissions to avoid creating different prices for power plants at various geographic markets, while others were open to customizing the plans based on each market’s characteristics.
“We’re at a pivotal point when it comes to these discussions — a point that I think, will ultimately lead to action in some shape or form,” FERC Chair Neil Chatterjee said. “As states continue having these conversations, we’ve seen mounting pressure on lawmakers as well. And some of the proposals that have been floated — while presumably well-intentioned — could actually bring with them more harm than good. That’s why I think, as we face this crossroads, we have to take this issue head on,” he added.
Legal scholars and members of the FERC legal team generally agreed it has the authority to approve market rules that could include a carbon price.
“Far from a debate about whether the Commission has any authority in this area at all, there was remarkable consensus that the Federal Power Act does not restrict FERC from incorporating state carbon pricing into wholesale markets,” Jeff Dennis, general counsel and managing director at Advanced Energy Economy, said.
At the presidential debate on Tuesday (Sep. 29), Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden said he did not back the Green New Deal, a plan often touted by progressive Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan,” Biden said.
During the debate, Biden said his environmental plan would create millions of good paying jobs and decarbonize sectors of the economy.
President Trump touted his record on the environment, and said he supported clean air and water.
Atlantic Drilling Ban
On Monday (Sep. 28), the administration said the 10-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and both North and South Carolina will extend to renewable energy. The move could delay some states’ efforts to develop offshore wind farms.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday (Oct. 2) that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!,” he wrote on twitter.
There are 32 days until the election. The 2020 campaign, at least from Trump’s end will likely be paused for the time being.
 Adragna, Anthony. “Congress notches another conservation bill win.” Politico Pro, 1, Oct. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/1e5854dc/B7qmzIEhrUuL5jB9dbdiSA?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/10/congress-notches-another-conservation-bill-win-3984320
 Joselow, Maxine. “Legislation aims to boost ethanol, curb car emissions.” E&E Daily, 28 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/d943938f/LEtQGt9oEke8yvJa2_z0dg?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/2020/09/28/stories/1063714767
 Sobczyk, Nick. “Democrats introduce legislation to end oil subsidies.” E&E Daily, 30 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/2c5d5729/xWFLoFf8wk28t4GuYOqLTQ?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/2020/09/30/stories/1063715049
 Geller, Eric. “Rosen, Hoeven introduce Senate version of DOE grid equipment testing bill.” Politico Pro, 2 Oct. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/5fa6df3f/AiR4V_wT1kKO23Am1T3g_w?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/10/rosen-hoeven-introduce-senate-version-of-doe-grid-equipment-testing-bill-3984331
 Wolff, Eric. “FERC gets support for carbon price, but no consensus on market structure.” Politico Pro, 30 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/a12f3ccc/Xxnh7QbsWkuEXiaixLD5wQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/ferc-gets-support-for-carbon-price-but-no-consensus-on-market-structure-2002997
 Skibell, Arianna. “FERC urged to make way for carbon pricing.” Energywire, 1 Oct. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/0213eb33/ZOUF7kf5XUCcqsFqzb4D7A?u=https://www.eenews.net/energywire/stories/1063715215/search?keyword=FERC
 Lefebvre, Ben. “Trump’s Atlantic drilling bans also block offshore wind energy.” Politico Pro, 28 Sep. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/c73f1bf3/h1l-bXtDsE6V-H61Qv5YYw?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/09/trumps-atlantic-drilling-bans-also-block-offshore-wind-energy-3984229