Energy & Environment —Democrats set to bypass key date for climate agenda
Democrats are set to miss a key deadline for passing President Biden’s climate and social spending agenda, while politicians talk climate change and more at the World Economic Forum.
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Memorial Day nears without deal
Democrats are set to blow through the soft Memorial Day deadline for reaching a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on a slimmed-down budget reconciliation bill to raise taxes, fight climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Senate Democratic sources say there’s no chance of getting a deal this week but they argue that doesn’t necessarily mean the negotiations over a long-awaited budget reconciliation package are doomed.
Some optimistic Democratic aides note that neither Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) nor Manchin has identified the Memorial Day recess as a drop-dead deadline.
Setting a new date: Instead, Democrats are once again pushing back the target date for getting a deal with Manchin. They now point to the start of the August recess as the new deadline, arguing that gives them most of August to draft legislation and the month of September to pass it on the floor.
Passing major legislation in September of an election year is extremely difficult, and high inflation has been the main reason for Manchin’s opposition to the package. The nation’s concerns about inflation have only grown in recent weeks.
Pushing the deadline back, however, shows that some Democrats are refusing to publicly throw in the towel on the package.
“We hear it’s really a Schumer conversation and there’s progress but until we actually see there’s been an agreement and an initial on the agreement and we’re going to put it on the floor, I’m going to be skeptical,” said a Democratic senator, characterizing conversations with fellow Senate Democrats on the state on the negotiations.
The lawmaker said Schumer has taken the lead in the talks because senior White House officials damaged their relationships with Manchin when negotiations broke down in December.
Meanwhile, Manchin, who is the Senate’s key swing vote, said he would like to see lawmakers tackle inflation, drug pricing and energy before the midterms.
“I think there’s an opportunity that we can do something,” he said Monday at the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting when asked if meaningful legislation would pass before the midterm elections.
On energy specifically, he said: “The third thing is going to be energy and climate, and you can’t do one without the other. The United States of America has an abundant supply of natural gas and oil and we can use our fossil and the cleanest technology humanly possible.”
He also talked about going down “two paths” including “investing in… technology that’s going to be needed for the transition that will happen.”
But he warned against “eliminating one,” saying, “that’s the European model that Germany followed. It wasn’t successful.”
Read more about the state of play on spending negotiations here, from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton.
Another Davos dispatch
On Tuesday, Climate Envoy John Kerry warned against expanding new fossil fuel infrastructure amid the crisis in Ukraine.
“No one should believe that the crisis of Ukraine is an excuse to suddenly build out the old kind of infrastructure that we had,” he said.
“We can do what we need to do with respect to Ukraine. We can do what we need to do with respect to the climate crisis, but we cannot be seduced into believing that this suddenly is an open door to going back and doing what we were doing which created the crisis in the first place,” he added.
But, Kerry did endorse production in the shorter term, specifically shale.
“Yes there has to be a resupply to Europe of gas that has been lost in the cut off from Russia,” he said. “As… the International Energy Agency makes clear, there are way to provide that gas, ranging from using shale, which is quick to market…to channeling the venting and the flaring,” he said.
NOT RULING OUT EXPORT RESTRICTIONS
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday that the administration was not ruling out restrictions on fuel exports in response to high prices, when questioned about it.
Granholm said “I can confirm the president is not taking any tools off the table,” after she was asked if the U.S. would consider restricting petroleum exports, according to Reuters.
However, a White House official noted that the administration has long said it was leaving all possible tools on the table.
NOAA expects above-average hurricane season
Hurricane activity in 2022 is projected to be above average for the seventh year in a row, according to a forecast released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Between June 1 and Nov. 30:
- 14 to 21 named storms are likely
- As many as 10 of those could become full hurricanes (storms with winds of at least 74 miles per hour) according to NOAA’s forecast
- Of these, three to six could qualify as “major” hurricanes, or those reaching category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of at least 111 mph
- Typical seasons have about 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and three major hurricanes
Overall, the NOAA estimated a 65 percent chance the season will be above-normal, versus a 25 percent chance of about normal conditions and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
NOAA attributed the increased likelihood to a number of weather patterns, particularly an ongoing Pacific La Nina, a phenomenon that lowers sea surface temperatures and is likely to last for the rest of the season. In addition, there are above-average temperatures in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
ON TAP TOMORROW
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will examine the nomination of Joe Goffman to lead the EPA’s air and radiation office
- The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program
WHAT WE’RE READING
- The US has spent more than $2B on a plan to save salmon. The fish are vanishing anyway. (Oregon Public Broadcasting and ProPublica)
- The Lithium War Next Door (HuffPost)
- USDA Whistleblower Reveals Fraudulent Wolf Kills (The Intercept)
- Climate worries galvanize a new pro-nuclear movement in the U.S. (The Washington Post)
- Aviation giant KLM to face legal action in first major challenge to airline industry ‘greenwashing’ (CNBC)
And finally, something offbeat and off-beat: Use your noodle.
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.
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