Build Back Better Act’s Benefits Disputed by House Environmentalists

December 9, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
Build Back Better Act’s Benefits Disputed by House Environmentalists
Rep. Kathy Castor, of Florida, chair of the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — With little doubt some version of the Build Back Better Act will win final approval within days, on Thursday a congressional panel discussed how to get the greatest environmental benefit from it.

Democrats said that after the infrastructure for more renewable energy is installed, the plan would reduce energy costs, create jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Republicans called the plan unrealistic, saying it would bring steeper taxes for consumers and higher expenses for businesses.

Much of the discussion during the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing swung back and forth between supporters saying it is a wise investment but critics saying it isn’t.

“We will lower prices for families and businesses alike,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

She said the now $2.2 trillion bill to address global warming and social policy issues would “unleash incredible economic benefits.”

The House approved the bill by seven votes on Nov. 19. Senate leaders say they expect to vote next week on the bill.

A trimmed down version of it has enough commitments from senators to pass by a narrow margin. President Joe Biden proposed it early this year as a $3.5 trillion plan.

Castor mentioned the example of electric vehicles as a benefit. The Biden administration wants to install a half-million charging stations nationwide to convert electric vehicles from a luxury to a practical means of transportation.

She said electric vehicle owners would save more than $10,000 over the life of an automobile compared with gasoline-powered cars because of cheaper costs of electricity.

In addition, when the cost of electrical generation is included, electric vehicles produce about one-third of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide compared with combustion engine automobiles.

Energy and climate change provisions make up $555 billion of the spending in the revised Build Back Better Act. Most of it would consist of converting to renewable energy, such as from solar panels, wind generators and electric vehicles.

The plan calls for slowly phasing out coal, natural gas and oil as energy sources, which drew criticism from Republicans at the House hearing.

“These policies don’t make sense, they don’t add up,” said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. “All it’s doing is exporting jobs and increasing the price of energy.”

He described the Build Back Better Act as an unworkable government intervention on business and the economy.

“The same bill increases the regulatory burden,” he said.

Uday Varadarajan, a Stanford University professor and renewable energy advocate, disputed whether the coal, gas and oil industries offer better energy options for consumers.

This winter, “More than half of American households could see energy costs rise 30% or more,” Varadarajan said. Most of the homes are heated by natural gas.

Solar arrays in Arizona and wind generators in wind-swept parts of the Midwest make the alternative energy systems more practical in the United States than nearly anywhere else in the world, he said.

“The Build Back Better Act’s going to pay for itself, ultimately,” he said.

Provisions of Biden’s plan would raise revenue to pay for it through tougher Internal Revenue Service enforcement, a 15% minimum tax on foreign corporate profits, closing a Medicare tax loophole benefiting the wealthy and an adjusted gross income surcharge for the nation’s highest income earners.

The bigger government role envisioned in the plan for private citizens and businesses drew resentment from Alex Herrgott, president of the Permitting Institute. His trade association advocates for reducing burdens of the infrastructure permitting process.

“To build back better, we must first be able to build,” he said.

Extensive and sometimes contradictory regulations, followed by delays in winning permits, mean infrastructure improvements under Biden’s plan could be difficult and expensive, he said. Regulations add 20% to 30% to the cost of projects.

“These costs are ultimately passed on to the public in terms of higher taxes and energy bills,” Herrgott said.

Some of the business disputes are likely to result in lawsuits, where judges rather than project managers could influence how infrastructure is built, he said.

“We’re going to have courts making science-based decisions,” Herrgott said.

Tom can be reached at [email protected]

A+
a-
  • Build Back Better
  • Environmentalists
  • Kathy Caster
  • White House
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Political News

    June 19, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    New Protections Unveiled for Undocumented Spouses and Their Kids

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his administration will offer potential citizenship to any  immigrant without legal status... Read More

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his administration will offer potential citizenship to any  immigrant without legal status who has lived in the country for 10 years and been married to a U.S. citizen for an extended period of time. This new policy could... Read More

    June 17, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    Congresswoman Wants AG Garland Arrested for Contempt

    WASHINGTON — A member of Congress said Sunday she wants to use a rarely invoked legal authority to compel the... Read More

    WASHINGTON — A member of Congress said Sunday she wants to use a rarely invoked legal authority to compel the arrest of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland for contempt. The House voted last week to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over... Read More

    June 17, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    Biden Campaign Redoubling Effort to Keep Abortion Rights Front of Mind for Voters

    WASHINGTON — With the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade fast approaching, the Biden-Harris... Read More

    WASHINGTON — With the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade fast approaching, the Biden-Harris campaign is organizing volunteers to share what they’ve experienced since that ruling went into effect. Decided on June 24, 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization... Read More

    June 17, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Des Moines Register Poll Reconfirms Iowa’s Shift From Swing to Red State

    WASHINGTON — Iowa, home to corn, state fair butter cows, and a world famous political caucus, is a swing state... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Iowa, home to corn, state fair butter cows, and a world famous political caucus, is a swing state no more. That much now seems obvious with the release of a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll Monday that showed former Republican President Donald Trump... Read More

    June 17, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    What You Need to Know About CNN’s Presidential Debate

    WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump step into a CNN studio in Atlanta on Thursday,... Read More

    WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump step into a CNN studio in Atlanta on Thursday, June 27, to participate in the first of two planned presidential debates ahead of the 2024 election they are sure to make history in large and... Read More

    June 16, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    At Hydrogen Summit Euphoria Gives Way to the Practical

    WASHINGTON — It was, as it always is, a very big event. But if this year’s Hydrogen Americas Summit differed... Read More

    WASHINGTON — It was, as it always is, a very big event. But if this year’s Hydrogen Americas Summit differed from its previous incarnations, it was that the sense of euphoria that for so long defined the sector is gone, and the real work has begun.... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top