Mar 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Lawmakers reject renewables aid in latest round of coronavirus relief

An illustration of a thermometer measuring the earth's temperature.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The renewable power sector would not get sought-after aid in the COVID-19 economic plans before lawmakers on Capitol Hill, a setback for the industry warning of steep job losses and scuttled projects.

Driving the news: House Democrats' $2.5 trillion proposal unveiled last night omits what industry groups and some lawmakers wanted: an extension of deadlines to use tax credits and the ability to quickly monetize them. The provisions are also absent from the Senate's GOP-drafted "phase three" proposal.

The intrigue: There may be room for negotiation. The House plan lacks White House-backed language in the Senate bill that would provide $3 billion to buy oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

What they're saying: Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who heads the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and is among the lawmakers seeking the renewables' aid, tells Axios she'll fight to include the provisions in the "phase three" bill.

  • "As President Trump and Sen. McConnell insist on bailing out polluters through the COVID stimulus bill, my Democratic colleagues and I will keep fighting to protect the millions of clean energy workers affected by this crisis."

But, but, but: While the industry hasn’t given up on this round, a push in a subsequent COVID-19 aid package is possible.

  • The absence of the provisions in the measure Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled last night signals that they're not among Democratic leadership's priorities in this round.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are attacking Democrats for efforts to include renewable tax provisions and other climate-related measures in "phase three."
  • And, this morning, President Trump via Twitter attacked efforts to put green provisions into the stimulus.
  • Democrats' leverage is limited, given GOP control of the White House and Senate and the need to quickly take steps to shore up the collapsing economy.

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