Daily on Energy: Schumer betting on huge emissions cuts from infrastructure package

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EMISSIONS CUTS FROM DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATION: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats’ climate and infrastructure plans being pursued this fall have the potential to nearly fulfill President Joe Biden’s Paris Agreement pledge to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030.

Schumer unveiled an analysis to his Democratic colleagues today detailing how policies included in the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill and targeted for a more sprawling reconciliation package could together reduce U.S. emissions 45% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

Schumer is attempting to demonstrate the high stakes of the next month or so for Democrats a day after his counterparts in the House united to unlock the reconciliation process while also moving to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill (see more on that below).

“I want to reiterate how critical this moment is for our country and our world,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats, citing the extreme weather afflicting large swaths of the U.S. this summer. “We are on the precipice of the most significant climate action in our country’s history.”

Nat Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, told me Schumer’s new analysis, while light on details, confirms the importance of the infrastructure legislative package for Biden to have any shot at meeting his updated “nationally determined contribution” to reduce economy-wide emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.

“What’s certainly clear is including climate and clean energy priorities in the reconciliation package, along with what's in the infrastructure bill, is critical to giving us any hope of meeting the target Biden set,” Keohane said.

Where the cuts come from: Schumer’s analysis includes a chart projecting how much key policies would contribute to cutting U.S. emissions 45%.

The biggest chunk (42%) would come from Democrats’ proposed “clean electricity payment program” paying utilities to use more carbon-free power, combined with a package of new and expanded tax subsidies for clean energy technologies. Another 15.7% of reductions would occur from electric vehicle rebates and subsidies, followed by 9.1% from a proposed fee imposed on oil and gas methane emissions.

The rest would be made up by a combination of agricultural conservation measures, transit electrification spending, clean building incentives, repealing fossil fuel subsidies, supporting rural co-ops transition to clean energy, cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells, and more.

How to get to 50%: Schumer is claiming the U.S. could entirely achieve Biden’s 50% emissions reduction target by 2030 when counting planned administration actions and policies enacted by Democratic states.

Emissions regulations from the EPA over the power and transportation sectors could contribute.

And don’t forget about efforts, both regulatory and voluntary from businesses, to better control methane leaks, which many experts consider to be the “low hanging fruit” of easy, quick emission reduction efforts.

But Keohane predicted policymakers would need to pass further legislation beyond what the infrastructure package can do to make the 50% pledge achievable, such as imposing an economy-wide carbon price.

“This is not going to be the end of what the U.S. Congress and Biden administration need to do to put the country on a real clear path to net-zero and the 2030 target,” Keohane said. “This needs to continue to be a top priority.”

Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writer Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe). Email jsiegel@washingtonexaminer.com for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email, and we’ll add you to our list.

DEMOCRATS ADVANCE BIG BUDGET PLAN WITH CLIMATE AMBITIONS: House Democrats advanced a massive spending package yesterday that aims to aggressively combat climate change, teeing up the reconciliation process.

Democrats unilaterally passed a budget resolution and will begin hashing out the legislative details of a $3.5 trillion infrastructure and social spending reconciliation package, the Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio reports.

The measure advanced after Democratic leaders gave a faction of 10 party centrists a verbal commitment that they would work to align their reconciliation package with Democrats in the Senate, where powerful centrists such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia are seeking to rein in spending.

Centrists won a second pledge from speaker Nancy Pelosi that the House will take up a Senate-passed, bipartisan infrastructure bill by Sept. 27. The timeline would ensure the measure is signed into law ahead of the Oct. 1 expiration of current federal authorization for highway spending.

Standoff still to come: In a joint statement, Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and the other centrists boasted that their group had succeeded in making sure that the bipartisan bill would “receive stand-alone consideration, fully de-linked, and on its own merits.”

But a larger group of liberal Democrats signaled that they still regarded the two measures as linked, saying they’ll only vote for the infrastructure bill when the House passes a reconciliation package fighting climate change, raising the prospect of another standoff next month.

In a nod to liberals, Pelosi said the Senate infrastructure bill “is not inclusive of all of the values we need to build back at a time when we have a climate crisis.”

CLIMATE HAWKS BACK LIBERALS: Environmental groups with ties to the White House issued statements yesterday supporting the liberal position pressing Democratic leaders to bring the reconciliation bill to a vote before they advance the smaller bipartisan infrastructure measure.

“Climate champions in the Senate and House have been clear throughout this process: no climate, no deal. We must pass a reconciliation bill with bold climate action first in order to pass the bipartisan deal,” said Evergreen Action executive director Jamal Raad.

The Sierra Club called on Democrats to stand firm on including policies in reconciliation including clean energy tax subsidies, the clean electricity payment program, major new electric vehicle and transit investments, a Civilian Climate Corps, elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and more.

“The bipartisan bill must be complemented by the full level of reconciliation investments authorized by the Congress in its joint $3.5 trillion budget resolution,” said Sierra Club’s deputy legislative director Kirin Kennedy.

BUSINESS GROUPS BUCK UP CENTRISTS: Industry groups that support the bipartisan bill but oppose a big-spending reconciliation package that would raise corporate taxes are crediting the House centrist group with extracting concessions from Pelosi.

“Date certain vote on infrastructure and separated from the reconciliation bill. This is a big win for the 10 Democrats, infrastructure and the American people!” tweeted Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

INTERIOR’S PLAN TO RESUME OIL AND GAS LEASES: The Biden administration is taking steps beginning this week toward restarting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters as it complies with a ruling by a federal judge that found its pause on new auctions to be illegal.

In a filing yesterday to a Louisiana federal district court, the Interior Department said it will take procedural steps by the end of this month to prepare for a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The sale could occur in late September or October. For onshore leases, Interior will post a list of available parcels for auction by the end of August, followed by a 30-day public comment period, likely leading to sales in early 2022.

Last week, the Biden administration announced it would appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, but it also committed to restart leasing during the appeals process.

Leasing won’t look the same though: Interior, however, has signaled it will take a restrictive approach to fossil fuel leasing going forward and that it will demand big changes in the future.

The Biden administration is in the process of completing an "interim" leasing report that was supposed to come out in early summer in which it is expected to propose reforms raising costs and imposing stricter regulation on fossil fuel development on public lands and waters.

BIDEN MEETS WITH INDUSTRY ON CYBERSECURITY: Biden will host representatives from dozens of private sector companies at the White House this afternoon for what administration officials say are "advanced" discussions on improving the nation's cybersecurity capabilities, the Washington Examiner’s Christian Datoc reports.

The discussions, broken into three separate sessions, will be attended by the members of Biden's Cabinet and executives from the financial, tech, energy, water, and education industries.

According to White House officials, the three sessions will focus on critical infrastructure resilience, building enduring cybersecurity, and the cybersecurity workforce. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will host a breakout session.

Biden pledged to hold a meeting with private sector companies back in July following a string of escalating cyberattacks carried out by Russian actors, including against the Colonial Pipeline.

Duke Energy, PG&E, American Water, San Jose Water, Southern Company, Williams Companies and ConocoPhillips will be represented, according to an attendee list reported by Politico.

OIL DEMAND MOTORS UP: U.S. oil demand jumped for the second straight week thanks to a big spike in motor gasoline consumption, the Energy Information Administration said today in its Weekly Petroleum Status report.

Oil demand rose to 21.8 million barrels per day from 21.5 million barrels p/d the week prior.

Demand, however, still remains about 2% below the same period pre-pandemic in 2019.

Gasoline consumption increased to 9.6 million barrels p/d from 9.3 million barrels p/d, while jet fuel and diesel demand fell.

Oil prices ticked higher this morning after EIA also reported a crude oil inventory draw of around 3 million barrels for the second consecutive week.

The Rundown

Bloomberg EPA rebuffed warnings its auto emissions plan was too weak

Reuters Denmark, Costa Rica seek alliance to speed up the end of oil and gas

Bloomberg A methane hunter finds leaking gas that threatens EU’s climate goals

Washington Post Global electric power demand returns to pre-pandemic levels

E&E News Progressives eye halt to ANWR drilling in reconciliation bill

Calendar

MONDAY | AUG. 30

12 p.m. The US-Qatar Business Council will host a webinar event featuring energy experts titled, “How Will LNG Drive a Sustainable Energy World?”

WEDNESDAY | SEP. 1

12:30 p.m. The Nuclear Innovation Alliance will hold a webinar event for the release of the new NIA resource, "Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technology: A Primer."

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Tags: Energy and Environment, Daily on Energy

Original Author: Josh Siegel

Original Location: Daily on Energy: Schumer betting on huge emissions cuts from infrastructure package

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