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Washington Week: House to consider clean energy-focused infrastructure bill

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Washington Week: House to consider clean energy-focused infrastructure bill

This week the U.S. House is expected to consider a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package containing tens of billions in clean energy investments and renewable energy tax credit extenders.

The massive infrastructure package, the Moving Forward Act, contains several environmental provisions to curb emissions and $70 billion in clean energy investments. It also includes a five-year extension for the wind production tax credit, six-year extension of the solar investment tax credit, and two-year extension for the 45Q tax credit for carbon capture projects.

Trade groups representing clean energy sectors welcomed the extenders and touted the bill's inclusion of a direct payment option for the credits.

"This legislation preserves successful credits that have proven their effectiveness and puts the wind industry a step closer to tax policy parity with other energy sources," said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. "Providing direct payment for the credits is especially crucial as the wind industry works to withstand the enormous challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Even if the House passes the enormous package, the bill is unlikely to garner many Republican votes in the House or much support in the GOP-led Senate.

Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor, D-Fla., plan to release details of a "comprehensive congressional action plan to solve the climate crisis" during a June 30 press conference, according to a media release.

Senators demand nuclear bill's inclusion

As the Senate considers the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, for fiscal year 2021, a bipartisan group of 20 senators recently requested that the Senate include a bill focused on research and development for advanced nuclear reactors.

That bipartisan bill, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2019. It seeks to re-establish U.S. leadership in civilian nuclear energy applications, including by directing the U.S. Department of Energy to set research and development goals for advanced reactors. Another major provision of NELA would require the federal government to enter into at least one power purchase agreement with an advanced nuclear plant by 2023.

"Exporting a reactor creates a 100-year relationship with the recipient country," the 20 senators wrote. "Russia and China have recognized this and are using their state-backed financing to reshape global energy politics."

The Senate will continue its consideration of the NDAA this week, and the House Armed Services Committee will hold a July 1 markup of the bill.

FERC commissioner to remain

The term of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Republican member Bernard McNamee is set to expire June 30. However, he recently announced plans to continue serving for the "foreseeable future," allowing Republicans to maintain their 3-1 majority.

McNamee first announced his decision not to pursue another term on the commission in January, but the White House has not yet nominated his replacement. And until a replacement is confirmed, a departing FERC member can continue to serve under a grace period provided by federal law that will expire once Congress adjourns its current session near the end of the year.

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US Congress
June 29

The U.S. House and Senate are both in session.

June 29

The House Committee on Rules will meet to discuss the Moving Forward Act, the Democrats' massive infrastructure bill.

July 1

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing entitled "Better, Faster, Cheaper, Smarter, and Stronger: Infrastructure Development Opportunities to Drive Economic Recovery and Resiliency."

July 1 The House Armed Services Committee will hold a markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
Federal agencies
June 29

Comments are due on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to maintain its primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter.

July 1 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a virtual public hearing on the agency's proposed rule that seeks to limit public health co-benefit considerations stemming from Clean Air Act rulemakings.
July 1 Comments are due on a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposal to refocus its transmission incentive policy on economic benefits rather than risks.

Industry events

June 29

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum will moderate a discussion about policy options to boost the clean energy economy.

June 30

The Alliance to Save Energy will host a webinar to discuss the role of energy efficiency in prior economic recovery packages in both the U.S. and Europe.

June 30 The R Street Institute will discuss the electric market implications of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's actions pertaining to net metering.
June 30 The Women's Council on Energy and the Environment will host a webinar entitled "The Post-COVID Oil and Natural Gas Climate Agenda."

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