Bill Leaves Out Climate, Clean Energy 08/03 06:09
The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled by the Senate
includes more than $150 billion to boost clean energy and promote "climate
resilience" by making schools, ports and other structures better able to
withstand extreme weather events such as storms and wildfires.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package
unveiled by the Senate includes more than $150 billion to boost clean energy
and promote "climate resilience" by making schools, ports and other structures
better able to withstand extreme weather events such as storms and wildfires.
But the bill, headed for a Senate vote this week, falls far short of
President Joe Biden's pledge to transform the nation's heavily fossil-fuel
powered economy into a clean-burning one and stop climate-damaging emissions
from U.S. power plants by 2035.
Notably, the deal omits mention of a Clean Electricity Standard, a key
element of Biden's climate plan that would require the electric grid to replace
fossil fuels with renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower.
Nor does it include a Civilian Climate Corps, a Biden favorite and a nod to
the Great Depression-era New Deal that would put millions of Americans to work
on conservation projects, renewable energy and helping communities recover from
The White House says the bipartisan deal is just the first step, with a
proposed $3.5 trillion, Democratic-only package following close behind. The
larger bill, still being developed in Congress, will meet Biden's promise to
move the country toward carbon-free electricity, make America a global leader
in electric vehicles and create millions of jobs in solar, wind and other
clean-energy industries, supporters say.
While the bipartisan plan is "a good start," lawmakers will "deal with the
climate crisis in the magnitude, scope and scale that's required'' in the
Democratic-only bill, said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
For now, the focus is on the bipartisan deal, which includes $550 billion in
new spending for public works projects, $73 billion of that to update the
electric grid and more than $50 billion to bolster infrastructure against
cyberattacks and climate change. There's also $7.5 billion for electric
Citing the deadly Texas power outages earlier this year, the White House
touted spending to upgrade the nation's power grid and boost renewable energy.
An Energy Department study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to
$70 billion a year. The bill also invests in demonstration projects for
advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture and storage and so-called clean
hydrogen that can be burned with few emissions.
Still, the measure falls far short of meeting Biden's promise to address the
climate crisis, even as triple-digit temperatures across the West caused
hundreds of deaths this summer and a busy Atlantic hurricane season causes
"It is clear that the deal does not meet the moment on climate or justice,''
said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a senior vice president of the League of Conservation
"This looks like the Exxon Infrastructure Bill,'' said Janet Redman of
Greenpeace USA. "An infrastructure bill that doesn't prevent a full-blown
climate catastrophe by funding a swift transition to renewable energy would
kill millions of Americans.''
The bill offers "glimmers of hope" such as a multibillion-dollar commitment
to clean up and remediate old oil wells and mines, Redman said, calling on
Democrats to demonstrate "the courage to be visionary and go bigger" in the
partisan bill expected later this year.
One of the lead negotiators, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, acknowledged that no
one got everything they wanted in the bipartisan bill. "But we came up with a
good compromise that's going to help the American people,'' he said.
"This is about infrastructure,'' Portman said at the White House. "This is
roads and bridges, but also lots of other kinds of infrastructure, including
broadband, our water system and our rail system -- all of which is good for the
economy. This will lead to more efficiency and higher productivity, more
The plan includes $21 billion to clean up brownfields and other polluted
sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. The plan
will help communities near contaminated industrial sites and rural areas where
abandoned oil wells pose a continuing a hazard, the White House said.
The Senate voted, 66-28, Friday to advance the bill, but it's unclear if
enough Republicans will eventually join Democrats to support final passage.
Senate rules require 60 votes in the evenly split 50-50 chamber to advance the
bill but a simple majority to pass it.
The measure also faces turbulence in the closely divided House, where
progressives are pushing for increased spending on climate change and other
issues and centrist lawmakers are wary of adding to the federal debt.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, called the Senate bill inadequate and pledged to push
for changes in the House, which passed a separate, $715 billion transportation
and water bill in early July. Transportation is the largest contributor to
greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
DeFazio, the House bill's lead sponsor, said his bill "charts our path
forward,'' adding that he is "fighting to make sure we enact a transformative
bill that supports our recovery and combats the existential threat of climate