Energy Update (November 15)
2020 Election Update
On Saturday (Nov. 7), all the major networks, including the Associated Press, announced former Vice-President Joe Biden had defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the U.S.
The Trump campaign has filed various lawsuits in swing states challenging the results, and Judges in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada have already rejected its cases. Experts appear skeptical that the ongoing litigation could change or have a significant impact on the presidential race.
Leaders from across the world have already started to congratulate Biden on his victory.
Democrats retained the House majority with a 219-202 margin with 14 races left to be called. Republicans had a net gain of six House seats and are expected to expand that margin. NBC News projects Democrats will hold a 224-211 majority in the House. Prior to the election, Democrats held 232 seats. At this point, the party will likely lose various seats on crucial committees, including Ways and Means.
This week, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) won re-election. Both seats in Georgia will be officially determined in a runoff on January 5, 2021. Notably, on Monday (Nov. 9), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that if there is a 50-50 split, he would not vote to end the filibuster.
On Tuesday (Nov. 10), the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its FY 2021 Appropriations bills.
The committee proposed $38.2 billion for the Interior-Environment spending bill, which includes boosts in funding for wildfire response and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
The legislation would provide $9.09 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a slight increase above this year’s funding. It would also offer an increase of $3.75 million to the State and Tribal Assistance Grants Program, bringing the total to $4.28 billion. Water infrastructure spending would stay the same.
The measure would also fund the Interior Department at $13.6 billion, up $1.6 billion from FY 2020. A large part of that increase is due to the allocation of $900 million for the LWCF.
Democrats said the legislation did not include enough funding for climate change, endangered species, and infrastructure programs.
To view the bill, click here.
Energy and Water Development
Senate Republicans proposed $51.75 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE), Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation, a $3.4 billion increase over current levels. The additional funds will largely go towards DOE’s work managing the nuclear stockpile.
The legislation would add $58 million to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Advanced Research Projects-Energy will receive a $5 million increase over last year’s appropriation’s levels, to a total of $430 million.
To view the proposed legislation, click here.
On Tuesday (Nov. 10), President-elect Biden’s transition team announced the names of its “review teams” that will oversee operational transitions at federal agencies. Out of Biden’s 39 agency review teams, 19 will have at least one or more officials with some type of climate background.
Patrice Simms, Vice President of Litigation at Earthjustice, will lead the EPA team. Arun Majumdar, the initial Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, will lead the DOE group. The Interior Department team will be led by Kevin Washburn, a University of Iowa law professor and member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma who served in the Obama administration as Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Cecilia Martinez, an environmental justice advocate, will lead the Council on Environmental Quality team.
The review teams include virtually no one with direct ties to the fossil fuel industry.
To view a full list of Biden’s review teams, click here.
House and Senate leadership have sent mixed signals on whether another COVID-19 relief package will get passed during the lame-duck session. Right after the election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for a COVID-19 stimulus deal during the session, however, this week he said he was instead focused on an omnibus appropriations bill and “maybe another coronavirus package” by the end of the year.
McConnell also signaled he would oppose the $2 trillion package being pushed by Democrats.
“It seems to me that snag that hung us up for months is still there,” McConnell told reporters.
“I don’t think the current situation demands a multi trillion-dollar package. So I think it should be highly targeted, very similar to what I put on the floor both in October and September,” he added
Democratic leaders indicated they will not go along with a smaller relief package. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are in agreement over the need for a comprehensive relief deal.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) are pushing to see if their bipartisan energy package, S. 2657, could get enacted before the end of the year.
“We are gearing up to try to move this in the lame duck now,” Murkowski said on Tuesday (Nov. 10).
“I can tell you that I am looking for any vehicle because that is actually true,” she added.
Manchin said this week that the bill “has a shot.”
The House passed its own energy package back in September.
On Thursday (Nov. 12), Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced the “Solar Jobs Preservation Act,” which would extend the phaseout schedule for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) by one year.
The credit is currently slated to wind down in 2022 under a 2015 tax deal. The bill would also make the incentive temporarily refundable for projects that “break ground” by the end of 2021.
“As we continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effects on our economy, we cannot forget about the climate crisis and the need to preserve clean energy jobs that help us protect our planet,” Levin said in a statement.
To view the legislation, click here.
 Adragna, Anthony; Guillén, Alex; Lefebvre, Ben; and Snider, Annie. “Senate GOP proposes $38B for Interior, EPA.” Politico Pro, 10 Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/84730e3a/J9rM3QqRL0Gm3Y9zWc93jQ?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/11/senate-gop-proposes-38b-for-interior-epa-3985206
 Wolff, Eric & Snider, Annie. “Senate GOP spending bill would boost renewable energy, water infrastructure.” Politico Pro, 10 Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/7d7c6382/JEVpNe-RL0q_dropeIJl9g?u=https://subscriber.politicopro.com/article/2020/11/senate-gop-spending-bill-would-boost-renewable-energy-water-infrastructure-3985218
 Koss, Geof; Dillon, Jeremy; and Cahlink, George. “COVID-19, energy still lame-duck question marks.” E&E Daily, 12 Nov. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/f8f29e6d/GQ5CD5weAkaS9QFnXwbXwg?u=https://www.eenews.net/eedaily/2020/11/12/stories/1063718271