Energy & Environment

Lawmakers clamor to add provisions to fast-moving energy bill

Greg Nash

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are seeking to add their bills to a fast-moving bipartisan energy package, which is expected to hit the Senate floor for a vote on Thursday.

The American Energy Innovation Act is sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and would spur research and development into renewables as well as technology to ease pollution from fossil fuels. 

The 555-page proposal already includes proposals reflecting more than 50 bipartisan bills that have already been forwarded from the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee.

That may just be the beginning, as a number of lawmakers are eager to add a few more bills to the compilation before it reaches the floor for a vote.

Two bipartisan proposals, one from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on building codes and another from Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) that aims to reduce the use of heat-trapping chemicals, are among those that could be tacked on to the new bill. 

“We expect Rob to offer an amendment with Senator Shaheen that would add the voluntary building codes sections of their legislation…which were left out of the energy bill,” a spokesperson for Portman told The Hill in an email. 

A spokesperson for Shaheen told The Hill in an email that the senator wouldn’t vote for the bill without her and Portman’s provisions, which aim to strengthen building codes to make new homes more energy efficient, though the codes are voluntary and at states’ discretion. 

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) is eyeing new proposals that aim to get rid of the electric vehicle tax credit for people making above a certain income threshold. He also wants to limit the credit to vehicles costing less than $45,000. Braun plans to introduce the concept both as a standalone bill and as an amendment to the Murkowki-Manchin legislation. 

“I know we need to promote vehicles that reduce our carbon footprint, but it doesn’t need to be in the form of tax breaks for the wealthy and their luxury vehicles,” Braun said in a statement. 

The Murkowski-Manchin bill, which was introduced last week, would promote research in renewables including geothermal and wave technology, as well as nuclear energy. It also includes a controversial measure that could fast-track mining of minerals needed for the batteries to support long-term use of wind and solar.

The bill would also bolster research and development of carbon capture technology, including from the coal and natural gas sector.

The legislation’s mining and fossil fuel provisions have elicited concerns from some Democrats, and calls from environmental groups to include provisions that would more directly help tackle the climate crisis.

“Senate Republicans who claim to want to do something about climate change face a big test this week: Will they join Senate Democrats in fighting for and passing bipartisan provisions that will address climate change in a significant way, or will they continue to do big oil’s bidding and block any progress?” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Beyond the amendments from Shaheen and Carper, Schumer wants tax credits for solar, wind, batteries and electric vehicles to be include in the package. These are all measures that have been pushed  by major environmental groups alongside the industries themselves. 

 

 

Tags Chuck Schumer Climate change Jeanne Shaheen Joe Manchin John Kennedy Lisa Murkowski Mike Braun Rob Portman Tom Carper
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