Relief proposals waiting for a home

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Monday, August 10, 2020

On the sidelines: As negotiators weigh next steps, lawmakers on both sides of Congress are waiting on the sidelines with a host of energy asks they’re hoping to hitch onto the next relief package. Here is a few ME are watching:

— Bipartisan House members want to include legislation, H.R. 7483 (116), to provide financial relief to rural electric cooperatives that are suffering amid the coronavirus crisis.

— More than 30 farm-state lawmakers want negotiators to include language “explicitly” directing relief to biofuel producers, including, for example, language requiring the Agriculture secretary to provide a per-gallon payment to producers for renewable fuels produced during the pandemic.

— Senate Republicans are directly urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to prioritize assistance for the clean energy sector, and House Democrats have also vowed to prioritize assistance to the sector in future packages. The GOP lawmakers say they would like policies that benefit “renewables, nuclear, carbon capture, efficiency, advanced transportation, and energy storage.”

— House Republicans, led by Natural Resources ranking member Rob Bishop and Science ranking member Frank Lucasare looking to include provisions to reduce foreign dependence on critical minerals. “While the insecurity of many of our country’s supply chains is not new, the threat posed by America’s growing import reliance for critical minerals has become particularly apparent,” they write. Murkowski’s bill, the American Mineral Security Act, S. 1317 (116) , made it into the Republican Covid-19 measure pushed in the Senate.

— House Democrats have also drawn a line in the sand against any proposals for federal corporate immunity that would shield businesses that reopen amid the Covid-19 pandemic from lawsuits for five years, something environmental activists have said is also tied to the fossil fuel industry.

— Meanwhile, House Democrats’ have already included more than $1 billion in their own coronavirus rescue plan to help low-income households cover their water bills and would institute a moratorium on utility service shutoffs for any entity receiving federal relief funds. Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee also recently released a report warning that just 10 states have protections in place to shield their residents from having their water, gas or electric utilities shut off. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies asked for $4 billion to help cover the costs of a shutoff moratorium.