Bipartisan energy gang eyes ‘Santa Claus list’ of tax credits

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The bipartisan energy and climate gang led by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) broached the subject of clean energy tax credits last night, but they seem far from putting pen to paper for define what an agreement might look like.

The group, at its third meeting, reviewed a list of energy-related tax credits that have been proposed to the Senate over the past year in the Finance Committee and in the “Build Democrats’ $1.7 trillion Back Better Act,” according to several senators who were at the meeting.

“I think progress has been made to better understand what the finance committee voted on in the energy tax package that was debated and voted on months ago,” the chairman of the board told reporters. Senate for the Environment and Public Works, Tom Carper (D-Del.) After the meeting. . “It’s hard to get everyone to understand such a complex and broad tax policy, but I think it’s important to have the conversation.”

It was the group’s third meeting in less than two weeks, but there is little evidence so far that the senators have a path to a bipartisan agreement. In addition to energy tax credits, the gang in previous meetings has extensively discussed the National Environmental Policy Act allowing for carbon border reform and adjustment (Daily O&MMay 4).

However, the midterm elections are fast approaching, as are the legislative hurdles that usually accompany them.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.) said the group should sketch out a deal “well before” the July 4 break. But he said conversations were still in their early stages and the group had not reached any conclusions on how a bill would take shape.

“It was like what Santa looks at before Christmas,” Cramer said of yesterday’s reunion.

When asked if a possible product could garner enough Republican support to reach 60 votes in the Senate, Cramer told reporters, “It depends on how long Santa’s list is.”

“A great elevator”

Democrats’ Build Back Better Act climate and social spending bill, passed by the House, was loaded with $300 billion in tax credits for clean energy and electric vehicles, which climate advocates hoped to make big strides in decarbonizing the US economy.

It included revamped credits for renewables, which would eventually become technology-neutral, and extensions to the electric vehicle tax credit. He also had pro-GOP ideas, such as a new nuclear power generation incentive and a larger 45Q carbon capture credit.

“We’re just trying to figure out what was in the bills before,” Manchin said after the meeting.

“It’s a big lift,” he added. “We examine everything.”

The West Virginia Democrat has also expressed some opposition to those proposals in the months since he announced his opposition to “Build Back Better” in December. At a hearing last week, Manchin called the electric vehicle tax credits “absolutely ridiculous” (climate wireApril 29).

Cramer cited nuclear and carbon capture incentives as ideas he would be interested in. He said the idea would involve taking a handful of previously offered incentives as part of a potential deal.

“That’s our next step is to bring someone in and explain, do an analysis of each one of them – a lot of things have been done – and then tell us what the benefits of every one of them,” Cramer said.

“Our Planet on Fire”

Democrats have generally been tight-lipped after Manchin meetings. While they maintain they’re not dropping a Democrat-only budget reconciliation bill, it’s clear they see the meetings as an avenue for the climate policy President Joe Biden led in 2020, as well than for legislation aimed at tackling high energy prices. .

“At the end of the day, we could have legislation that addresses our energy needs and climate issues – that’s the goal,” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) said last night.

Carper said his top priority remains reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We know we have this huge problem with our planet on fire,” Carper told reporters. “We can’t just stop. We’ve done a good job in the bipartisan infrastructure – there’s some climate stuff there. But we still have a lot to do. »

In addition to Manchin, Cramer, Carper and Kelly, last night’s meeting included the Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) . Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) was also the only House member involved in the group.

Journalist Nico Portuondo contributed.

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