Senate Bipartisan Taskforces on Temporary Tax Policy
Having introduced earlier this year the Tax Extender and Disaster Relief Act of 2019, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) have launched five taskforces tasked with resolving issues associated with temporary tax policy. The issue areas are workforce and community development, health taxes, business cost recovery, and a combined group consisting of individual, excise taxes, and other temporary policies. Chairman Grassley has said the taskforces should complete their efforts by the end of June in order to “provide adequate time to identify possible long-term solutions that can be enacted this year to end the annual extenders drama and provide certainty to the taxpayers who utilize those provisions.” The Energy Taskforce is co-led by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with membership consisting of Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
House and Senate Continue to Address PFAS
On May 22 the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on “Examining Legislation to Address the Risks Associated with Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)” with testimony from the American Chemical Council, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Working Group, and the American Water Works Association. The hearing addressed six PFAS-related bills pending in the Senate: the PFAS Action Act (S. 638), the PFAS Detection Act (S. 950), the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act (S. 1251), the PFAS Accountability Act (S. 1372), the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act (S. 1473), and the PFAS Release Disclosure Act (S. 1507).
Also on May 22, the Senate Armed Services Committee marked up its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that prohibits the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) after October 1, 2022.
As the House Appropriations Committee continues to advance Fiscal Year 2020 spending bills, the recently released report for the FY20 Interior-EPA bill includes $3 million to support the work of the EPA in setting a drinking water limit for PFAS and $15 million for research regarding designation of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. The report also calls for other PFAS-related health studies.
Democrats Seek EPA Documents on EPA Fuel Economy Rollback
On May 23 Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Representative Bill Pascrell, the Democratic chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Wheeler seeking information, briefing materials, and analyses related to EPA’s public defense of its proposed rollback of public health regulations limiting emissions from cars and trucks. In the letter, Pallone and Carper highlight what they regard as legal and technical deficiencies with the EPA’s proposed rollback, point out a number of statements Mr. Wheeler made to Congress that they say contradicted EPA career experts, and request briefing materials prepared for EPA political officials.
House Advances 10 Energy Bills
On May 16 the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy marked up ten energy bills related to energy infrastructure, energy workforce, and energy security.
- H.R. 2088, a bill to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to reauthorize the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program
- H.R. 2041, the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act
- H.R. 2119, a bill to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to reauthorize grants for improving the energy efficiency of public buildings
- H.R. 1315, the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act
- H.R. 2665, the Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Act of 2019
- H.R. 2044, the Smart Building Acceleration Act
- H.R. 359, the Enhancing Grid Security through Public-Private Partnerships Act
- H.R. 360, the Cyber Sense Act of 2019
- H.R. 362, the Energy Emergency Leadership Act
- H.R. 370, the Pipeline and LNG Facility Cybersecurity Preparedness Act
New Energy Legislation
Since our last update, a number of energy-related bills have been introduced, including:
- H.R. 2659, a bill to establish a research, development, and technology demonstration program to improve the efficiency of gas turbines used in combined cycle and simple cycle power generation systems, was introduced by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and David McKinley (R-WV).
- H.R. 2597, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2019, was introduced by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and would establish a market-oriented standard for clean electricity generation. The bill has seven Democratic cosponsors.
- H.R. 2495, the Energy Technology Maturation Act of 2019, was introduced by Reps. Debra Haaland (D-NM) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). The bill would facilitate the commercialization of energy and related technologies developed at Department of Energy facilities with promising commercial potential.
- H.R. 2360, the Renewable Energy for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Act, was introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), and Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR). The bill would establish a renewable energy grant program for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.