Loading...

Bipartisan Bill Leaves Out Key Climate, Clean Energy Steps

August 3, 2021by Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Bipartisan Bill Leaves Out Key Climate, Clean Energy Steps
Wind turbines are silhouetted against the sky at dawn near Spearville, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled by the Senate includes more than $150 billion to boost clean energy and promote “climate resilience” by making schools, ports and other structures better able to withstand extreme weather events such as storms and wildfires.

But the bill, headed for a Senate vote this week, falls far short of President Joe Biden’s pledge to  transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy  into a clean-burning one and stop climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035.

Notably, the deal omits mention of a Clean Electricity Standard, a key element of Biden’s climate plan that would require the electric grid to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower.

Nor does it include a Civilian Climate Corps, a Biden favorite and a nod to the Great Depression-era New Deal that would put millions of Americans to work on conservation projects, renewable energy and helping communities recover from climate disasters.

The White House says the bipartisan deal is just the first step, with a proposed $3.5 trillion, Democratic-only package  following close behind. The larger bill, still being developed in Congress, will meet Biden’s promise to move the country toward carbon-free electricity, make America a global leader in electric vehicles and create millions of jobs in solar, wind and other clean-energy industries, supporters say.

While the bipartisan plan is “a good start,” lawmakers will “deal with the climate crisis in the magnitude, scope and scale that’s required” in the Democratic-only bill, said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

For now, the focus is on the bipartisan deal, which includes $550 billion in new spending for public works projects, $73 billion of that to update the electric grid and more than $50 billion to bolster infrastructure against cyberattacks and climate change. There’s also $7.5 billion for electric charging stations.

Citing the deadly Texas power outages earlier this year, the White House touted spending to upgrade the nation’s power grid and boost renewable energy. An Energy Department study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion a year. The bill also invests in demonstration projects for advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture and storage and so-called clean hydrogen that can be burned with few emissions.

Still, the measure falls far short of meeting Biden’s promise to address the climate crisis, even as triple-digit temperatures across the West caused hundreds of deaths  this summer and a busy Atlantic hurricane season causes extensive damage.

“It is clear that the deal does not meet the moment on climate or justice,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president of the League of Conservation Voters.

“This looks like the Exxon Infrastructure Bill,” said Janet Redman of Greenpeace USA. “An infrastructure bill that doesn’t prevent a full-blown climate catastrophe by funding a swift transition to renewable energy would kill millions of Americans.”

The bill offers “glimmers of hope” such as a multibillion-dollar commitment to clean up and remediate old oil wells and mines, Redman said, calling on Democrats to demonstrate “the courage to be visionary and go bigger” in the partisan bill expected later this year.

One of the lead negotiators, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, acknowledged that no one got everything they wanted in the bipartisan bill. “But we came up with a good compromise that’s going to help the American people,” he said.

“This is about infrastructure,” Portman said at the White House. “This is roads and bridges, but also lots of other kinds of infrastructure, including broadband, our water system and our rail system — all of which is good for the economy. This will lead to more efficiency and higher productivity, more economic growth.”

The plan includes $21 billion to clean up brownfields and other polluted sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. The plan will help communities near contaminated industrial sites and rural areas where abandoned oil wells pose a continuing a hazard, the White House said.

The Senate voted, 66-28, Friday to advance the bill, but it’s unclear if enough Republicans will eventually join Democrats to support final passage. Senate rules require 60 votes in the evenly split 50-50 chamber to advance the bill but a simple majority to pass it.

The measure also faces turbulence in the closely divided House, where progressives are pushing for increased spending on climate change and other issues and centrist lawmakers are wary of adding to the federal debt.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the Senate bill inadequate and pledged to push for changes in the House, which passed a separate, $715 billion transportation and water bill in early July. Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. 

DeFazio, the House bill’s lead sponsor, said his bill “charts our path forward,” adding that he is “fighting to make sure we enact a transformative bill that supports our recovery and combats the existential threat of climate change.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Infrastructure

Race to Cut Carbon Emissions Splits U.S. States on Nuclear

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — As climate change pushes states in the U.S. to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels,... Read More

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — As climate change pushes states in the U.S. to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels, many are coming to the conclusion that solar, wind and other renewable power sources might not be enough to keep the lights on. Nuclear power is... Read More

January 13, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Benefits of Electric Vehicles Overlook Agricultural Areas

WASHINGTON — Automotive industry officials told a congressional panel Wednesday that reaching President Joe Biden’s goal of switching the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — Automotive industry officials told a congressional panel Wednesday that reaching President Joe Biden’s goal of switching the U.S. transportation sector to electric vehicles is likely to be a trade-off of one set of problems for another. Electric vehicles produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions but... Read More

Buttigieg Doles Out $241M to US Ports to Boost Supply Chain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is awarding more than $241 million in grants to bolster U.S. ports, part of the... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is awarding more than $241 million in grants to bolster U.S. ports, part of the Biden administration's near-term plan to address America's clogged supply chain with infrastructure improvements to speed the flow of goods. The transportation money is being made available immediately to... Read More

EPA Head Tours Embattled Communities, Says Help On the Way

RESERVE, La. (AP) — Michael Coleman's house is the last one standing on his tiny street, squeezed between a sprawling... Read More

RESERVE, La. (AP) — Michael Coleman's house is the last one standing on his tiny street, squeezed between a sprawling oil refinery whose sounds and smells keep him up at night and a massive grain elevator that covers his pickup in dust and, he says, exacerbates... Read More

November 16, 2021
by Dan McCue
Speakers Hail Centrists, Willingness to Compromise at Infrastructure Bill Signing

WASHINGTON — It wasn’t the best afternoon for holding a bill-signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.... Read More

WASHINGTON — It wasn’t the best afternoon for holding a bill-signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. As the hour approached, the temperature plummeted and at times the wind sweeping across the wide lawn gusted to 35 miles per hour. But one was... Read More

Biden to Push Infrastructure Deal at 'Red List' Bridge in NH

WASHINGTON (AP) — The last time Joe Biden was in New Hampshire, he was a no-show at his own, sad... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The last time Joe Biden was in New Hampshire, he was a no-show at his own, sad party. Trounced in the state's 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Biden hopped a flight to next-up South Carolina before the polls had even closed on his fifth-place... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version