The biggest climate bill in U.S. history is headed to President Biden’s desk, plus a federal judge restores a freeze on coal leasing on public lands.
House sends climate bill to Biden in party-line vote
House Democrats passed their sweeping tax, climate and health care bill on Friday, sending the $740 billion legislation to President Biden’s desk and securing a significant victory for Democrats less than three months before the midterm elections.
The bill, titled the Inflation Reduction Act, passed the House in a 220-207 party-line vote. Four Republicans did not vote, while every Democrat voted in support.
House passage came four days after the Senate approved the bill in a party-line vote, with Vice President Harris casting a tie-breaking vote.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) touted the bill on the House floor during debate on Friday, arguing that it “saves the planet while keeping more money in your pockets.”
“This bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, a package for the people, increases the leverage of the public interest over the special interests, and expands health and financial security now and for generations to come,” she added.
Passage through Congress marks the culmination of more than a year of negotiations among Senate Democrats on a spending package.
The legislation will increase taxes on corporations, address climate change and bring down the prices of prescription drugs, all while lowering the deficit.
The package specifically includes more than $369 billion in energy security and climate investments and $64 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies for two years.
Refresher on climate and energy provisions in the bill:
Tax credits aimed at deploying commercial wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen and other no or low-carbon energies
Tax credits aimed at consumer energy efficiency and household clean energy generation — as well as electric vehicles, though the EV credits come with stipulations that may make it difficult for many cars to qualify
Creating an incentive-and-fee program aimed at cutting methane emissions from oil and gas production
Making the future of solar and wind energy on public lands and waters conditional on oil and gas lease sales — and requiring additional sales in the near term
Provisions aimed at helping communities that face disproportionate levels of pollution
Read more about the bill’s passage here.
More from The Hill:
Judge reinstates Obama-era coal leasing moratorium
A federal judge on Friday restored a 2016 moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands that had been overturned by the Trump administration.
In the ruling, Judge Brian Morris of the District of Montana, an Obama appointee, ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reimpose the moratorium until it has conducted a more thorough environmental analysis.
Former Trump-appointed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had reversed the Obama-era hold in 2017. In January, the Biden administration rescinded Zinke’s order but did not reimpose the moratorium.
Leasing of federal lands for coal mining accounted for about 40 percent of U.S. coal production in 2015.
Morris had previously sided in 2019 with a coalition of tribal and environmental groups, ordering a new environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Calling the new analysis inadequate, the groups sued again in 2020.
“BLM’s NEPA analysis should have considered the effect of restarting coal leasing from a forward-looking perspective, including connected actions,” Morris wrote. “The ‘status quo’ that existed before the Zinke Order was a moratorium on coal leasing.
Because the baseline alternative must consider the status quo, BLM was required to begin its analysis from that point.”
GRIJALVA WANTS PERMITTING DEAL TO BE STANDALONE VOTE
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Hill on Friday that he will push for the permitting deal between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Democratic leadership to be a standalone vote — rather than attached to another vehicle that may incentivize more of his colleagues to vote for it.
Grijalva said that he and a handful of colleagues planned to make a request on Friday that the vote — on an agreement he fears will weaken environmental standards — be a standalone.
He said he hopes the reforms are not attached to must-pass legislation such as a continuing resolution, which keeps the government funded temporarily in the absence of an appropriations bill.
“We’re going to start early to urge a separate vote,” said Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and former co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“I’m going to make my request…and I hope that they understand. This is not trying to torpedo anything, this is saying the [continuing resolution] and the budget is critical, yes, but let’s do this other one where everybody is accountable,” he added.
Not part of the talks: He acknowledged that there is a deal between Manchin and Senate Majortiy Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to advance the permitting reform deal, but said he doesn’t feel an “obligation” to uphold a deal that he did not help negotiate.
“I don’t feel an obligation…to support the deal,” Grijalva said. “I didn’t shake hands, I wasn’t part of the negotiations.”
When Manchin and Schumer announced they had reached a deal on the climate and tax legislation, they also agreed to take up reforms to the environmental reviews that are required in order to permit energy or other construction projects.
They said that they reached an agreement with President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to pass the changes before the end of the fiscal year in October.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Even low levels of air pollution can damage health, study finds (The Guardian)
Estonia Never Needed to Import Gas by Ship. Until It Did. (The New York Times)
‘All bad options’ as Biden administration faces Western water crisis (Politico)
Exclusive: U.S. questioned Cheniere pollution controls during LNG plant permitting (Reuters)
A disastrous megaflood is coming to California, experts say, and it could be the most expensive natural disaster in history (CNN)
Antarctica’s ice shelves may be melting faster than anticipated: study
Chemical leak shuts down California freeway, prompting evacuations
How the Democrats’ inflation bill could cut consumer energy costs
Johnson & Johnson to stop sale of talc-based baby powder in 2023
🌊 Lighter click: New isopod just dropped.
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week.