As originally published in The Washington Examiner
September 9, 2019
YOUR POST-RECESS CLIMATE CHANGE LEGISLATION PRIMER: Democrats will likely drive the congressional energy and environment agenda in Congress the rest of the year as they seek to shore up support for presidential candidates’ aggressive climate change plans.
But climate hawks and clean energy groups hope the politicking won’t interfere with other smaller bipartisan measures that could pass before 2020, including measures to boost carbon capture, advanced nuclear energy, and energy storage.
“We are going to see a lot driven by Democrats,” Heather Reams, executive director of the conservative group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, told me. “They need to show their base they care about the environment. There is also the influence of the elections to try to tee up and show synergy between presidential candidates and Congress.”
Where bipartisan progress could happen: While those bills won’t become law, climate and clean energy advocates note a few smaller bipartisan measures that could pass both chambers.
The USE IT Act supporting carbon capture utilization and direct air capture research could be attached to the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Other bills that could pass include the Better Energy Storage Technology Act or “BEST Act” directing the Energy Department to establish a R&D and demonstration program for grid-scale energy storage, along with the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act requiring DOE to establish goals to help companies demonstrate multiple advanced nuclear reactors by the mid 2020s.
Senator John Barrasso, Republican chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, aims to have a full Senate vote on a transportation reauthorization bill before the end of the year that includes incentives for building more electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
And finally, keep your eyes on so-called “tax extenders” for expiring solar and wind credits, along with a measure that would expand the investment tax credit to include battery storage.
Reams said the Ways and Means Committee could pursue a “dream energy tax bill” including all those measures, although it would be “hard to pass” heading into an election year.
Don’t wait for a carbon tax passing anytime soon: Republicans, however, are unlikely to show more support for carbon pricing this year, a goal of groups like the Citizens Climate Lobby.
Read the full piece here.