Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Grumet wants a big 2025 energy bill

headshot
Jan 31, 2024
Jason Grumet

Grumet at lunch last week. Photo: Nick Sobczyk/Axios

American Clean Power Association CEO Jason Grumet wants the energy industry to have a unified legislative proposal ready for Congress in 2025.

Why it matters: ACP has expanded its reach under Grumet's leadership, rankling environmental groups and allying with fossil fuel companies to push for an environmental permitting overhaul.

  • These days, he doesn't think the Biden administration's grid decarbonization goal is feasible, and he wants to be a force in unifying disparate parts of the industry.

Grumet — who recently marked his first year at ACP — chatted with Axios over lunch at Cafe du Parc. His remarks have been edited for clarity.

ACP spends less on lobbying than other big energy trades, like API and EEI. Do you plan to grow that operation?

We are certainly talking about ramping up a much broader public advocacy effort through 2024 leading into 2025, where we think there's going to be the potential for a lot of legislation that can be very positive, as well as threats.

So yeah, I do expect that that number is going to lean up.

What do you think is the opportunity for the next climate and clean energy bill? What do you think can get passed in 2025?

Our industry is doing great.… But we're not moving nearly fast enough to actually decarbonize the United States economy by 2050. And that space is the public policy gap we've got to close.

We're working across a lot of different energy sectors in 2024 to try to be in a position where in 2025 we can have an energy industry proposal.

It's only going to work if we are truly invested in passage of the whole thing, which is going to have to create significant progress on transmission, meaningful reform and efficiency in pipeline siting. It would have to address judicial review. It would have to do something on critical minerals.

There's no committee in Congress that has the jurisdiction to put that deal together, so ultimately we need a gang.

The engine of the debate has fundamentally changed. As our industry hits big time with incredible ambitions of scale, we're bumping into a lot of the same problems that the rest of the energy industry [faces]. So there is an energy-sector-wide community now. That's upsetting some people.

When you talk about decarbonizing by 2050, you are to some extent talking about taking away the fundamental business of fossil fuels. You have oil companies in your ranks, so is there any remaining tension there?

Yeah. The beginning of the clean energy transition is exuberant and exciting. The end will be magnificent. The middle is really hard.

The rest of the energy industry has clearly appreciated that we are not coming at this with this imagination that we are going to have a 100% carbon-free grid by 2035, which would be an expression that they somehow have to leave the field.

Not only is that not possible, that wouldn't be good public policy. It's just — it's not a real idea.

Fossil fuels leaving the field? Or a carbon-free grid by 2035?

Those two things would be the same.… First of all, you can't get a carbon-free grid by 2035 that can power the economy. But if you could, with the current technologies, it would drive most other sources of energy off the table.

The only climate solution that I am aware of is going to require a lot more linear infrastructure — transmission and pipes. Eventually, most of those pipes are probably not going to be carrying fossil products.

The industry right now, INGAA and API, they're going to be leading that transition — if they're smart.

How would you describe your relationship with the environmental community?

The environmental community is a profoundly diverse space. So [I have] fantastic, strategic, intimate, collaboratively manipulative relationships with the large sector of the environmental community that wants to actually achieve a clean energy transition.

There is a component of the community that I infuriate by suggesting that they are in solution denial.

When it came to designing the incentives for clean power, whether it was state mandates or federal tax credits, the alignment was pretty easy.

It also created a caricature that the clean power industry was a wholly owned subsidiary of one party.… The [IRA] passed, which is fantastic, but we were trapped in that us-versus-them idea.

The switch from legislation to implementation changes the game. If you really boil it down, the premise of this $500 billion investment is giving significant tax incentives to very big companies to build clean energy faster than they otherwise could.

Go deeper