White House/Executive Agencies
The Administration has spent most of the summer pushing its over $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Part of his Build Back Better agenda, President Biden has supported the bipartisan framework, touting the bill as “largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness.” The bill itself is a broad piece of legislation. With provisions for highways, rail, transit, climate section, energy provisions, the infrastructure bill is seen as giving a boost carbon-free sources of energy needed for the “energy transition” over to renewables. Specifically, there’s a $21.5 billion provision to create a Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at Department of Energy for hydrogen, electricity storage, direct air capture pilot projects. While those funds for government-funded R&D prioritize carbon-free power generation, only $2.5 billion is being allocated in the infrastructure bill for expanding electric transmission lines, thus limiting how much of Biden’s clean energy goals are feasible. Given the President’s recent comments supporting non-U.S. oil production, the current high price of energy makes the White House’s commitment to “promote access to affordable and reliable energy” a dubious one.
This week, the Senate will begin voting on amendments for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Originating from the U.S. Senate’s Committees on Commerce and the Environment and Public Works, these bills were approved months ago when they were voted to out of Committee. Since moving out of those committees, the Senate has added than $12.5 billion to commercialize carbon capture and storage. Senate leadership has not declared how many amendments they will allow the bill, so the final bill is still in flux.
With the 2022 Mid-Terms on the horizon, the Democrats in the House have small needle to thread to pass clean electricity standards. With all of its prioritization of renewable energy, the bill’s detractors claim it doesn’t go far enough in earmarking carbon-free energy alternatives. With a lot on the line, watch the how long the bipartisanship lingers in the Senate.