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CLIMATE IN BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE FRAMEWORK: Liberal senators and activists are encouraging the Biden administration and Democrats to abandon bipartisan infrastructure talks picking up steam because they argue the framework in question does next to nothing to address climate change.
They also fear Democrats, whose full control of government could be fleeting, will only get one bite at the apple, and that the bipartisan effort could suck the wind out of a promised larger second bill pushed through reconciliation.
But as we learn more details about the framework, it’s become clear to us the measure does contain significant climate measures — even if its proponents aren’t in-your-face about it — and it embraces some of the core tenets of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
What we think we know: Late last night, a two-page summary of the agreement leaked after it picked up the support of 11 more Republican senators, bringing the bipartisan total to 21, and giving it a new level of viability.
The bipartisan Senate plan, which still needs to be written into legislation, calls for around $974 billion in infrastructure spending over five years, including $579 billion in new spending.
It provides $15 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure, including charging, according to the leaked document, along with $73 billion for the power grid and $47 billion in funding for climate “resiliency” to protect coastlines from rising seas, among other things.
And it even matches one of Biden’s signature proposals to employ oil workers to plug leaking “orphan” oil and gas wells whose owners are either unknown or insolvent, providing $16 billion to establish such a program — the same amount the administration recommended.
“To say there is nothing in there for emissions reductions is an overstatement and not correct. It’s not just roads and bridges,” said Heather Reams, executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a conservative clean energy group.
“I know environmentalists think because they have a trifecta they should try to get as much as they can get, but the margins are slim. The art of what’s possible is important here,” Reams told Josh.
More details we’ve learned: The leaked document only contains the top-line numbers associated with the clean energy and climate provisions, but other summaries of the framework circulating around town seen by Josh provided a bit more detail.
For example, the bipartisan group is looking to provide funding for a variety of demonstration projects approved as part of the large clean energy innovation legislative package approved at the end of last year.
These include projects to demonstrate new advanced nuclear reactor designs, grid-scale energy storage, and direct air capture.
It also provides funding for pipelines to transport captured carbon dioxide, and to support the creation of hydrogen infrastructure hubs.
The bipartisan group has also discussed ways to keep existing nuclear reactors online — another Biden priority.
Tricky politics for Democrats: Skeptics of the proposal will note the deal omits two of Biden’s largest initiatives — providing consumer rebates for EVs and enacting a clean electricity standard. It also doesn’t extend or expand any clean energy tax credits. Those bigger items, of course, could be tackled in a subsequent Democratic-only reconciliation bill. The question Biden and Democrats will have to weigh is whether achieving smaller wins now with Republicans would preclude them from going bigger later, if moderates such as Joe Manchin don’t want to do anything more.
Welcome to Daily on Energy, written by Washington Examiner Energy and Environment Writers Josh Siegel (@SiegelScribe) and Abby Smith…