Senators weigh future of methane fee in spending bill

Senators weigh future of methane fee in spending bill
© Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

The future of another key climate provision, a fee on methane emissions from oil and gas development, is being negotiated on Capitol Hill. 

Leaving a meeting of Senate committee chairs with jurisdiction over climate provisions, Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (D-Del.) said he hopes the fee will be included in a massive spending bill Democrats are negotiating. 

“My hope is going to be in,” said Carper, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. 

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“We’ve negotiated a methane fee. We’ve tried to do it in a way that Sen. [Joe] Manchin [D-W.Va.] and his folks will be more receptive of it, and we’re still talking,” he added, saying in the meeting that lawmakers discussed a “broad range” of climate provisions.

His comments came after Reuters reported, citing two anonymous sources, that the methane fee was likely out of the multitrillion-dollar human infrastructure package. 

But Manchin, the centrist West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told reporters that nothing had been agreed to. 

Also seen leaving the Democratic meeting were Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProgressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law Biden should seek some ideological diversity MORE (N.Y.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill Democrats push tax credits to bolster clean energy Five reasons for concern about Democrats' drug price control plan MORE (Ore.), Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  Senate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill MORE (Mich.), and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary PetersGary PetersFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures MORE (Mich.). 

According to Schumer’s office, the methane fee is expected to be responsible for about 9 percent of the climate benefits from both the Democratic human and climate infrastructure package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

If the fee is cut from the bill, it would be the second major climate provision to be eliminated in recent weeks from the spending proposal.

The Clean Electricity Performance Program — which would have sought to shift the country’s electricity towards clean sources through grants for and fines on utilities — is also now expected to be cut amid opposition from Manchin. 

A recent analysis from think tank Energy Innovation found that this program could have been responsible for a third of all the emissions cuts from both infrastructure bills. 

But Democrats have expressed a desire to repurpose the $150 billion that would have been devoted to that program for other climate-focused provisions.