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    US spending measure aligned with energy transition

Summary

A $1.9 trillion spending package passed the lower chamber of US congress, but has a long way to go before final approval.

by: Daniel Graeber

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US spending measure aligned with energy transition

The US House of Representatives on November 19 passed US president Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better initiative, which includes sweeping measures meant to address climate change.

The US House of Representatives, the lower chamber, passed a measure running some 2,100 pages long by a 220-213 vote, largely along party lines. The $1.9 trillion spending proposal deals with everything from housing and education to energy and climate change.

Frank Pallone, a Democrat member of the chamber representing the state of New Jersey and the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, praised the bill for taking climate issues head on.

The bill includes rebates for homeowners to find ways to lower their own emissions while at the same time incentivising zero-emission technologies.

“The legislation will also drive down pollution from the oil and gas industry through a new methane emissions reduction programme,” he said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has already proposed new rules meant to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas sector in part by calling for royalties on flaring of associated natural gas.

Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, praised the bill for advancing carbon capture and storage and other means to lower the nation’s overall environmental footprint.

“However, the House language also provides for oil and gas provisions that are nothing more than punitive measures,” he said. “These include arbitrary new fees that would add millions of dollars in annual operating costs, pricing out US production.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade group representing the interests of hundreds of oil and gas companies, expressed similar reservations. API president Mike Sommers said the bill would add a premium to commodity prices at a time when natural gas, retail fuels and crude oil are all at multi-year highs.

“We urge the Senate to reject these misguided policies and focus on climate solutions that both reduce emissions and ensure Americans have access to the affordable and reliable energy this sector delivers every day,” he said.

The measure is not yet law. Vice president Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote in an evenly-divided Senate, the upper chamber, so passage there may be difficult. Revisions would then have to go back to the House before going to Biden’s desk for his final signature.