Lawmakers lay out arguments for boosting clean energy through infrastructure

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Wednesday that Congress needs to take steps to bolster developments in the clean energy sector, as infrastructure bills move closer to the finish line on Capitol Hill.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending MORE (D-Ore.) said “we have to be bolder and be more transformative” in order to keep pace with other countries on the energy front.

“There is no question that China in particular, over the last decade, really moved in a bold way,” Wyden said at The Hill’s "The Road to Zero-Emissions Trucks: Fleets & Shippers” event.

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Wyden told The Hill’s Steve Clemons that the Finance Committee is aiming to improve the 44 tax incentives currently in place for the energy industry.

“Instead of those 44, we said, ‘Let’s have one for clean energy, one for clean transportation and one for energy efficiency.’ ”

Wyden said that the committee has worked “very closely” with the White House on infrastructure and that there is an “opportunity to come together, to lock in the lodestar that says that you're going to be tech-neutral, market-oriented.”

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Rep. Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesLawmakers lay out arguments for boosting clean energy through infrastructure GOP seeks to keep spotlight on Afghanistan as Dems advance Biden's .5T spending plan Biden to travel to New Jersey and New York, survey Ida damage MORE (R-La.), who also spoke at Wednesday’s event sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, said the Democratic-only infrastructure bill being crafted by House committees should find other ways to boost clean energy.

“Instead of being focused on ‘I want everything to be solar or everything to be wind’, what we need to be focused on is a clean energy future,” said Graves, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The Louisiana Republican spoke about the community struggles across his state in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, while noting that the levees built after Hurricane Katrina saved “billions of extra dollars in damages” and prevented “countless lives that would have been lost.”

He said if such spending had been in place before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, “we probably could have saved well over $100 billion by investing somewhere around $8 billion on the front end.”

Congressional Democrats are pushing forward with their $3.5 trillion spending bill that’s packed with party priorities such as climate change, education and health care. The House is slated to vote by Sept. 27 on a separate infrastructure bill — the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan measure — that focuses more on spending for roads and bridges.