Democratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy'

Democratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting Murphy criticizes anti-abortion lawmakers following Michigan school shooting Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE (D-Conn.) told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats’ proposed fee on methane from oil and gas production could be "in jeopardy" in the party's multitrillion-dollar spending bill.

“We talked about it in a leadership meeting this morning. There’s a bunch of us that are very concerned about it,” Murphy said. 

Asked to specify, the senator said they were worried that “it may be in jeopardy.”

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Democrats, as part of their human infrastructure and climate change package, have floated a fee for methane pollution on oil and gas producers above a certain threshold. The fee would seek to hold companies responsible for leaks and excess pollution. 

Methane is more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to warming the planet, but it spends less time in the atmosphere. 

Murphy’s comments come as others appeared more optimistic about whether the fee would be included in Democrats' social and climate spending package. 

“Those negotiations continue likely as we speak,” 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.) told reporters, calling the fee “very much on the table.”

The fee is a big part of Democrats’ climate plan, with an analysis from 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’s (D-N.Y.) office released earlier this year saying it could be responsible for more than 9 percent of the overall emissions reductions from both the spending package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

On Monday, Democrats acknowledged that the fee’s future is being evaluated. 

If the provision is cut, it would be the second major climate change measure to be excised from the plan.

Another major program — aimed at shifting the country toward clean energy sources for its electricity — is expected to be removed from the package amid opposition from Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE (D-W.Va.).

To get their package across the finish line, Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote in the Senate, giving swing votes such as Manchin significant power in shaping the legislation. 

Sylvan Lane contributed to this report.