Senate pushes bipartisan energy innovation bill
A sweeping energy bill boosting federal support for everything from renewable energy to cybersecurity may get a vote as soon as next week.
Driving the news: The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), introduced the American Energy Innovation Act yesterday.
- The legislation, running 555 pages, compiles some 50 separate measures the committee has debated and passed last year.
One level deeper:
- Most of the bill’s components are narrow changes to existing policy or other government programs. Taken in aggregate though, Manchin calls it a “down payment” on technologies cutting emissions.
- It does not include an overall target to reduce emissions or any economy-wide mechanism to affect emissions, such as a carbon price or a mandate.
- Read the bill itself, a short summary and a longer summary.
Where it stands: The bill drops as politicians in Washington and on the campaign trail debate how aggressively the U.S. government should tackle climate change. Lawmakers are engaging in what has become a perennial debate about whether to try to go big or go small(er) with climate and energy policy.
- To date, Washington has gone small(er), and this bill doubles down on that path, by expanding current government policies and pushing narrow measures, like subsidies and public-private partnerships.
- A growing chorus of lawmakers, corporations and all Democratic presidential candidates want Washington to go bigger by creating new and economy-wide policies taking direct aim at emissions, such as a clean energy standard or a carbon tax.
What they’re saying: Response to the bill was mixed, reflecting Washington’s overall divisions on the matter.
- The National Mining Association and The Nature Conservancy both issued positive statements about the measure, even though the latter said more needed to be done.
- Other environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, outright opposed it. “This bill includes a number of small-bore proposals, some productive and some detrimental,” said Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club’s legislative director.
What’s next: The full Senate may vote on it as soon as next week.