Feb 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Senate pushes bipartisan energy innovation bill

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

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.

Go deeper: As Congress debates climate change policy, carbon price gets no love

Go deeper

Industry officials offer mixed messages on climate policy

A top business trade association official and the CEO of a major pipeline company said Tuesday they want the federal government to do more on climate change — but they’re not actually backing any such plans.

Driving the news: Marty Durbin, a top official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Williams Company CEO Alan Armstrong, speaking at a Bipartisan Policy Center event Tuesday, both said they think the government should create an economy-wide policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

10 ways coronavirus is changing energy and climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The novel coronavirus, upending our world as we know it, is also changing how we consume energy and address climate change.

Driving the news: The various impacts are occurring both now and into the future. Most changes don’t bode well for acting on climate change and transitioning to cleaner energy.

Senate debate on bipartisan climate package could open new fault lines

Sens. Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The Senate's debate over energy legislation this week is slated to bring fresh collisions over climate change overall and electric vehicles policy specifically.

Catch up fast: The Senate will consider a grab bag of measures introduced as a catch-all package by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who head the Senate's energy panel.