Mar 29, 2021 - Energy & Environment

What to watch in Biden's infrastructure rollout

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden is expected to show his cards this week when it comes to energy and climate provisions he'll ask Congress to include in a big-dollar infrastructure package.

Why it matters: Biden campaigned on major investments in zero-carbon power, electric vehicle charging, climate-resilient infrastructure and more.

Chances to move a huge package like this come around exceedingly rarely, and specifics have been absent so far.

What's next: His speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday — and other info the White House may reveal — should provide more clarity on what he wants in the wider infrastructure proposal expected to be well north of a trillion dollars.

Needless to say, we'll have way more later in the week, and here's a few things we're watching...

The pitch: Biden is expected to promote the plan as a major jobs package, but a note from the research firm ClearView Energy Partners said it could also be part of a wider message on competition with China.

  • It notes that amid concerns about inflation and with the pandemic receding, the plan may be positioned partly as "an industrial policy by which the U.S. might counter and contain a rising China."

The specifics: There's intense interest among energy lobbyists of various stripes, activists and others to see a huge array of provisions included, and not everyone will come away happy.

  • To take just one example, there's a push to create new tax incentives for battery storage projects.

The strategy: It's not yet clear how much Biden and Democrats will seek to move through budget reconciliation (the filibuster-proof process that constrains what can be included), or whether there's an opening for some bipartisan dealmaking.

The lobbying and advocacy: The upcoming plan is the biggest opening for a sweeping climate and clean energy package in a decade.

  • Axios' Hans Nichols reports that progressives are trying to sell the initiative with new cable TV ads arguing clean energy projects will immediately create thousands of jobs.
  • And Axios' Andrew Freedman, in the same story, noted the stakes of that and other advocacy efforts that will surround the bill.
  • There may be resistance to making the infrastructure bills too climate-heavy unless the public views clean energy spending as a win/win for jobs and the environment, Andrew notes.

Go deeper: Economists bullish on Biden's $3 trillion infrastructure plan

Go deeper