Apr 19, 2022 - Energy & Environment

First look: The Business Roundtable's new energy agenda

Illustration of blueprints colored green with the map of the United States drawn

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A K Street powerhouse with friends in both parties is making a closed-door and, as of today, public pitch for policies that shore up fossil fuel supplies in the short term while transitioning toward clean energy over time.

Driving the news: The Business Roundtable's new energy policy "roadmap," unveiled Tuesday and provided first to Axios, comes in response to high energy prices related in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The Business Roundtable, comprised of CEOs from some of the biggest corporations in the country, is a lobbying powerhouse. The group spent about $30 million on lobbying last year.

  • In the roadmap, the group goes further than it has to spell out an energy wish list.

The big picture: The roadmap largely aligns with some steps the Biden administration is taking or discussing. It also adds outside support for the sputtering conversation in Congress regarding a package of clean energy provisions.

  • The document states that businesses need a "market signal to secure long-term investment" in clean tech, such as batteries and energy storage, advanced nuclear technologies, and hydrogen and electric vehicles.
  • The roadmap endorses policies to build more liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals and related infrastructure aimed at shoring up Europe's supply of natural gas.
  • It also checks the box of supporting "accelerating" federal leasing programs both onshore and offshore in order to drill for more oil and gas but also deploy more wind and solar installations.
  • The Biden administration announced some new oil and gas leasing sales late last week, but the roundtable views these and other actions to date as insufficient to avoid the potential for a full-blown energy crisis.

Yes, but: Additional investments in fossil fuels carry the risk of moving the U.S. away from its climate goals of cutting emissions by 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero by 2050.

  • Recently, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned against new fossil fuel infrastructure if countries are to have a chance of meeting the agreed-upon target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by 2100.

Details: The roadmap also backs federal policies that accelerate the deployment of energy infrastructure that can be used flexibly to deliver both fuels and power, including facilities that would use captured carbon dioxide emissions and turn it into hydrogen.

  • It also endorses "renewable natural gas," which typically refers to biogas from landfills, organic waste management and other sources, which are used to replace fossil fuel-derived natural gas.

What they're saying: "The Administration should make clear that America will double down on both efforts to advance clean energy technologies and on increasing U.S. production and export of oil and natural gas during the transition," Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten said in a statement.

The intrigue: The organization advocated against the Build Back Better bill, the Biden administration's signature piece of climate change and social policy legislation. It did so due to the tax increases contained within the sprawling $1.75 trillion package.

  • In the roadmap, the Roundtable endorses many of the clean energy incentives that were in Build Back Better, including electric vehicle purchasing incentives, the advanced energy manufacturing credit, sustainable aviation fuels incentives, and investment tax credit for solar.

What's next: Energy security was a top agenda item when Roundtable CEOs met with President Biden in late March. The organization has briefed the administration on the roadmap and is discussing it with members of Congress, the organization told Axios.

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