Democrats focus on two amendments for Senate energy bill

Democrats focus on two amendments for Senate energy bill
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Senate Democrats appear to be narrowing their efforts to battle climate change through a fast-moving energy bill, focusing on two amendments that have proven controversial in the upper chamber.

A Senate aide told The Hill on Friday that Democrats plan to push for amendments on energy efficiency and reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), saying in an email that the measures “have teeth and would address climate change in a significant way.”

Democrats previously vowed to also go to bat for clean energy tax credits as part of the bill from Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus Lawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCoronavirus watch: Southern states begin to see rise in cases Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus Politicians mourn the death of Bill Withers MORE (D-W.Va.), which is aimed at spurring research and development into renewable energy as well as technology to ease pollution from fossil fuels.

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On Thursday, Murkowski threw her support behind 18 provisions from senators across the ideological spectrum, saying she would package them as a modified substitute amendment.

“Our bill now addresses priorities from nearly 70 members of the Senate. We have made it even better than it was, and now we need to move on to our final steps,” she said on the Senate floor. 

The list, however, doesn't include several provisions that Democrats — and some Republicans — have been fighting to add in.

A spokesperson for Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license Senators, bipartisan state officials press Congress for more election funds MORE (D-Ore.), who proposed an amendment aiming to expand tax incentives for electric vehicles and renewable energy, said the senator’s provision won’t be included in the legislation since it wasn’t on Murkowski’s list. 

“It won’t be included in this package given that it was not one of the 18 amendments added,” the official told The Hill. “Senator Wyden will continue to look for opportunities to move these energy tax policies.”

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The two amendments that Democrats will continue pushing were also not on the list.

One is a building codes amendment from Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators push for changes to small business aid Who should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? McConnell sets Friday night deadline for bipartisan deal on stimulus MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate 'unlikely' to return on April 20, top GOP senator says Phase-four virus relief hits a wall GOP senator to donate 2 months of salary in coronavirus fight MORE (R-Ohio) that would try to make new homes more energy efficient, though the codes are voluntary and at states’ discretion.

The HFCs provision, from Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Tentative deal would slash global oil production by 10 percent| Democrat questions WH transparency in rollback of bedrock environmental law Democrat questions WH transparency in rollback of bedrock environmental law Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic MORE (D-Del.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), would aim to lessen the use of the heat-trapping chemicals in refrigerators and air conditioners and is becoming a major sticking point in the energy bill negotiations.

Kennedy will continue to push for a vote on the measure, an official told The Hill on Friday.

The senator previously said that he would hold up the entire bill to try to include his proposal, which has been met with opposition from some Republicans and the White House, who say language should be included to prevent states from setting their own stricter standards.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns Lobbying world MORE (R-Wyo.), who is among those voicing concerns with the proposal, told The Hill on Thursday that he is working with Kennedy and Carper on changes to their amendment.

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

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.