Energy & Environment

Democratic senator: Methane fee could be ‘in jeopardy’

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) speaks to a reporter before the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
Greg Nash

Sen. Chris Murphy (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.”

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 Carper (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 Schumer’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 Manchin (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. 

Tags Charles Schumer Chris Murphy Chuck Schumer Climate change greenhouse gases human infrastructure Joe Manchin Methane Tom Carper

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