Energy & Environment

Six moderate Democrats raise concerns about spending bill’s energy measures

Six moderate Democrats are raising concerns about the energy provisions put forth by their colleagues as part of a $3.5 trillion spending package. 

In a new letter to House leadership, Reps. Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez, Lizzie Fletcher, Sylvia Garcia, Marc Veasey, Filemon Vela and Colin Allred criticized policies from their colleagues that are “targeting the U.S. oil, natural gas, and refining industries.”

“We firmly believe that the budget reconciliation bill should not unduly disadvantage any industry, and oppose the targeting of U.S. oil, natural gas, and refining with increased taxes and fees and the exclusion of natural gas production from clean energy initiatives,” wrote the lawmakers, all of whom represent districts in Texas. 

“These inequitable policies will cost American jobs, move America farther away from energy independence, and will slow the country’s move toward a lower carbon future,” they added. 

Their letter comes as Democrats hold slim majorities in both chambers and struggle to keep their coalition together in support of their spending proposal. 

In the Senate, Democrats can’t have any defectors, while in the House, they hold an eight-vote majority. 

Recently, a group of nine lawmakers, including Cuellar, Gonzalez and Vela, expressed reservations about the two-track system for the bipartisan and Democratic-only spending bills. 

Among proposals pushed by Democrats are a methane fee on pollution from the oil and gas industry and increased payments for drilling on public lands. 

Another major policy is known as a Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would pay or penalize power providers in order to shift the country toward clean electricity. The House version of this program, unveiled last week, would exclude natural gas unless it doesn’t use technology to capture its emissions. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also expressed opposition to this program over the weekend, saying that “it makes no sense at all” and arguing that senators should not place incentives toward a place where the market is already going. 

Oil and gas are less carbon intensive than coal, but their production and use still contribute planet-warming emissions to the atmosphere. 

Tags Colin Allred Filemon Vela Joe Manchin Marc Veasey Sylvia Garcia

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