Legislative Announcements

Additional Details Released about the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure Plan

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

Following the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan rollout, lawmakers and stakeholders have sought to characterize the plan and posture around an uncertain legislative strategy. Republican lawmakers have criticized the package for its large tax increases, calling it “anti-business,” and several Democrats, including key moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), have also been vocal about the tax increases in the bill. While the administration is still hoping for bipartisan support, unified opposition from the minority would mean that all members of the Democratic Caucus would need to remain on board for the proposal to pass through budget reconciliation. Democrats opposed to the tax hike are quickly searching for another solution, including three Senate Democrats who released a more detailed proposal to raise taxes on multinational corporations to pay for the White House’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), lead sponsor of carbon pricing legislation introduced by a group of House Democrats last week, said it is critical that a discussion on carbon pricing is included in the first stages of negotiations if it has a chance of being included in the final bill. The plan’s Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Standard is the primary mechanism for driving mandatory carbon reductions from the electric sector, but is unlikely to comport with reconciliation rules. Inclusion of a carbon price, however, may turn off progressives who are hoping for a stronger regulatory regime for carbon.

Two agencies have also released new details about President Biden’s Made in America tax plan and American Jobs Plan proposal. The Department of Treasury announced that tax incentives for clean energy production will be included as a replacement for fossil fuel subsidies, encouraging the adoption of clean energy technologies. The plan also includes a 10-year production tax and investment credit for clean energy and storage. Additionally, in an email to GOP Hill staffers, a Department of Transportation official provided a rough outline of how the administration will distribute money for the transportation sector: the bulk of the money allocated for vehicle electrification will go to consumer rebates for EVs, while the remaining funds for electrification will be split between building chargers, zero-emission transit vehicles, and school bus electrification. Additionally, $2 billion is set aside for “ARPA-I,” presumably an advanced research project agency for infrastructure akin to the ARPA-E program at the Department of Energy.

Clean Car Rollback Lawsuit Paused

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

On April 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to freeze litigation related to the Trump administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule. The SAFE Vehicles rule weakened the fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks negotiated in 2012. A separate legal proceeding, stayed in February, would have revoked the waiver for California to impose tougher vehicle pollution standards than those established by the federal government. The court order, which had been requested by the Biden administration, was opposed by a coalition of several Democratic attorneys general and environmental groups that had hoped for a faster resolution. The Biden administration is expected to propose a new clean car standard rulemaking later this year.

DOE Reverses Process Rule on Efficiency Standards

Update provided by Meguire Whitney

On April 1, the Department of Energy proposed a new rule to reverse changes made to its internal Process Rule that were made during the Trump administration at the end of 2020. The Trump-era changes added additional procedural hurdles for the agency to cross before it could increase efficiency standards for a range of appliances. The new proposal would revert the Process Rule to non-binding guidance, offering the agency significant flexibility in whether it follows the requirements. The DOE is required to review appliance standards every six years.

Appeals Court Vacates Trump EPA Greenhouse Gas Threshold Rule

Update provided by Meguire Whitney 

On April 5, a federal appeals court vacated a Trump administration rule that sought to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from most stationary sources other than power plants. The rule stated that any source category whose greenhouse gas emissions are not more than 3% of U.S. emissions could not be subject to regulation. Though not explicitly stated in the rule, this has been interpreted to mean that oil and gas production, steel manufacturing, and all other stationary sources except for power plants are exempted. The Biden administration asked the court to vacate the rule in March, citing the lack of public notice and comment. The EPA indicated it would not re-propose the existing rule and would conduct extensive research and outreach if it chose to issue a new threshold proposal.

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